The Penultimate Mile: Natalie Wood in Love with the Proper Stranger

(one installment in a quick series counting down from 50 to 26!)



The competition (Cliff: 4 for 5):

Patricia Neal in Hud

Leslie Caron in The L-Shaped Room

Shirley MacLaine in Irma la Douce

Rachel Roberts in This Sporting Life

The first of two 1963 nominees about unwed women grappling with pregnancy, this Mulligan-Pakula production is social commentary with a light touch (abortion is not on the table), a good alternative to the Stanley Kramer School that dominated the award around the same time.  The movie really rests on the stars, and Steven McQueen is diverting as a lunkhead clumsily trying to figure out the right thing to do, but the movie rests on Natalie Wood’s star power–here at its finest.  A little pre-date moment in front of the mirror, battling her cleavage, says it all.  Still, the Academy got it right this year, with the soulful Patricia Neal in Hud.


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