NY Times review of February 18, 1966:
THERE have been better pictures about Hollywood, but few as triumphantly, all-round bad as "Inside Daisy Clover." The Warner Brothers presentation, adapted by Gavin Lambert from his novel, opened yesterday at, of all places, the Radio City Music Hall. So this is Hollywood. This?
Watching this dank, verbose and ploddingly cynical yarn about a jittery teen-ager, played by Natalie Wood, who becomes "America's Little Valentine" of the nineteen-thirties, a viewer can rejoice anew for success stories like "A Star Is Born." Both versions of that were real beauties, concerned with genuine talent and heartbreak and with real people.
The new picture almost has to be seen to be believed at all. It's simply the dull case history of a neurotic young beatnik type, absurdly taken over by a major studio, who rockets to fame overnight and finally collapses, just as inexplicably, from bleeding psyche. Why? Well, she's famous, rich and young ("pushing 17"), with her whole life ahead of her. Poor Daisy.
We first see Miss Wood, got up like Li'l Abner's kid sister, bouncing around the amusement pier of the Venice, Calif., beach, where she lives in a shack with her batty mother, whom Ruth Gordon plays like a cross between Lady Macbeth and Polly Moran. Miss Wood makes one of those amateur singing recordings, whimsically mails it to a studio and â bingo! â a star is born, here anyway.
In no time flat, up rolls a long car to the Clover shack, Daisy is whisked to the huge Swan Studio and put under contract by Christopher Plummer, as a bland, ogre producer. The two musical samplings of the heroine's talent, a cloud-hopping montage and another urchin newsboy number, are almost laughable. There is one bright tune, "You're Gonna Hear From Me," by AndrÃ and Dory Previn.
But, excluding one good scene where Miss Wood goes berserk in a music synchronization booth, there is little in the way of studio activity and actual movie preparation. Most of the time, under Robert Mulligan's brooding direction, Miss Wood pines for her mother and the beach shack or mopes around the mausoleum mansion of Mr. Plummer and his neglected, neurotic wife, Katharine Bard.
They're all neurotic, in fact, and the crowning touch is Miss Wood's unsuspecting marriage to the studio's top glamour boy, a homosexual, personably played by newcomer Robert Redford. At least "Harlow" got there first with a wedding surprise.
Coming from a town that has yielded some fine self-appraisals, the Hollywood of Daisy Clover is cold, null and void.
The Music Hall's stage show is a Tahitian revue, featuring the Islanders, the Bora Bora Dancers, the Three Olympiads, Eugene Slavin and Felix Caballero, the Rockettes and the Corps de Ballet.