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Thread: Barbara Loden's WANDA (1970) neo-noir

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    Barbara Loden's WANDA (1970) neo-noir

    Barbara Loden was a method actress whose beauty and talent won her several supporting roles ranging from studio films like SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS (1961) to small experimental independents like FADE-IN aka IRON COWBOY (1967). One of her best roles was in Frank Perry's THE SWIMMER (1968). Burt Lancaster, evidently thinking she had upstaged him, cut her out of THE SWIMMER and reshot her scenes with Janice Rule which had a devastating impact on her career. Loden was married to Elia Kazan, who did not support her creative endeavors nor her desire to be a director. She wrote, produced, starred in, and directed WANDA on 16mm stock for $115,000 in 10 days with a crew of four people, two actors including herself and several amateurs. The locations were mostly stolen, but the hand-held camera is steady. The film has a you-are-there vibe to it, so fans of reality TV should find it accessible.

    WANDA is a downbeat crime film about an unhappy woman who leaves her husband and child in a poor mining town and takes up with with a petty thief. They are both losers. It is obviously a first-timer's film, but it shows more talent and ability than most first-time directors. Loden's direction was on the on-the-job training or nothing. She had other films in mind, but was never able to raise the money. I first saw WANDA at the Mini-Cinema in Uniondale, Long Island where it played with JOE (1970) in 1975. The film is memorable for several reasons, but I'll let the liner notes from the DVD tell the story:

    WANDA is now out of print, getting scarce and pricey, so buy it now if you want to see this neor-noir gem from the 1970s:
    Last edited by Richard--W; 05-20-2013 at 11:43 PM.
    "I've been to college, but I can still speak English when business demands it."
    - Raymond Chandler, 1939.

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