(On Cable TV, August 2019) I’m not a big fan of small-town dramas, but there are two or three things that make Splendor in the Grass worth a look. The first is the most obvious: the casting. With Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in the lead, there’s additional interest that other movies with lesser-known actors may not have. The other is more subtle, but with its premise turning around the dilemmas experienced by two circa-1928 teenagers dealing with romance, sex, and future prospects, you can feel the film trying to say something about the changing perception of teenagers as of 1961. Splendor in the Grass, directly written for the big screen, is nonetheless messy in ways that originally scripted movies usually aren’t: At times, with its time skips and changes of situation, it feels like an adaptation of a novel being overly slavish to the source material. There are a few melodramatic junctions that stretch the bounds of a believable drama, but so it goes. Director Eliza Kazan was trying for something more than comforting formula here, and the result manages to transcend specific time or place. But even if you’re not having any fun seeing the story go where it goes, at least there’s Wood and Beatty delivering early great performances.