Daisy Miller - 1974

Who doesn't know about the golden couple of 70s Hollywood, Polly Platt and Peter Bogdanovitch breaking up because of Cybill Shepherd.  So besotted was Bogdanovitch, he tried his hardest to turn Shepherd into a big Hollywood star.  Unfortunately, Shepherd didn't have a range further than playing the PRETTY GIRL.

This film is an interesting failure mainly because it should have worked for Shepherd, yet it is also serves as a kind of commentary of the kind of uproar the Shepherd/Boganovitch pairing caused in the film social circles.

The film's biggest asset and its biggest fault is Cybill Shepherd herself.  She is just fine as the flighty, flirty, very pretty Daisy Miller.  However she lacks the technique to go further, to show the rebelliousness and the stubbornness brewing underneath her bubbly smile.  Unfortunately Bogdanovitch doesn't give her any help because he is so intent on focusing on her pretty face.  See picture above, we get numerous shots of Shepherd smiling winsomely.  A more level headed man would have realized that his crush wasn't much of an actress and instead give more scenes to the better actors around her.  Barry Brown as Winterbourne was fabulous.  Cloris Leachman was also great as Daisy's insane mother.  But the showstopper of the film was Eileen Brennan looking gorgeous and dripping malevolence as Mrs. Walker.  Bogdanovitch should have turned the last half of the film into a portrait of Brennan's character turning the small expat Roman community against Shepherd's Daisy.  It would have at least cast Shepherd's flat characterization in a more sympathetic light.  As it stands, Daisy Miller in this film is so annoying it allows the audience to hope for someone or something to slap her silly into some common sense. Therefore, the end didn't have the note of tragedy and hopelessness it should have had.

The setting and film work was lovely. But there were off base elements.  I didn't get the feeling I was actually in the late 1870s but in a 1970s version of it.  This film definitely suffers from the absence of Polly Platt's discerning eye.  Still it has enough eye candy to keep a period film maven happy.

So yes, it could have been better.  Heck, it could have been a lot worse.  But you know what I say?  Eff it.  Watch it for Eileen Brennan's shark like society leader.  Even a few minutes of her performance makes this disjointed project enjoyable.

Cybill as Daisy.  Sigh.  It doesn't develop any further than this clip.  Believe me.

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