Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan)

I returned from fan-fiction retirement for this toast to one of my favorite American films, Splendor in the Grass, an Elia Kazan gem starring Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. Hope you like it (and Happy Holidays!),


Bud was the town high-school football hero in Kansas. Deanie was the idealistic girlfriend in his arms. This was and was never to be, however, a typical high-school fairy-tale. Bud, son of a wealthy oil driller, was considered the prince of his town. Deanie and Bud wanted to court their intimate relationship, even though Bud's father Ace keeps telling him to be wary of entreating sexual desires at a young age and to wait until marriage for sex. Ace even commands his son to find another casual girl to cater his sexual yearnings and to just forget about Deanie, but Bud doesn't give up that easy. Bud's family life isn't normal despite his family immense Kansas wealth. His older sister Ginny is a wild drunk who engages in many relationships with promiscuous and unscrupulous men interested in her father's money. Ginny has an abortion and is raped after a party despite Bud's attempts to rescue her. Ginny ends up dying in a car crash, and Bud never forgets this.

BUD: My parents want me to go to Yale University.
DEANIE: They disapprove of our time, Bud.
BUD: We should separate, Deanie.
DEANIE: You're grieving Ginny, Bud, but alright.

Deanie is secretly heartbroken and decides to date another popular high-school boy named Toots who tries to eventually rape her by a pond. Shocked and traumatized, Deanie attempts to commit suicide by diving into the pond to drown, but she's rescued and evetually committed to a mental institution. Bud meanwhile has gone to Yale and is now dating a beautiful Italian-American female student named Angelina. Bud and Angelina decide to get married. Bud returns to Kansas and lives on a large ranch with his beautiful wife Angelina and their first son, Bud, Jr. Deanie is driven to the ranch after she's released from her mental institution after years of recovery. She approaches Bud and realizes he's now settled down and found true happiness. Deanie tells Bud about a charming institution patient she befriended while on the inside named Charlie and how he gave her hope.

BUD: You look good, Deanie.
DEANIE: You have a new life altogether, Bud.
BUD: We'll always be high-school sweethearts, Deanie.
DEANIE: Maybe I'll visit you and Angelina for Christmas!
BUD: Maybe.

As Deanie is driving away from Bud's incredible Kansas ranch, she's happy for her high-school sweetheart, the love of his life. He's settled down and gotten past the shadow of his stubborn father, the cultural drama of the time which was the Great Depression and the Stock Market Crash of 1929 which almost bankrupted Bud's father Ace who ended up committing suicide. Deanie realizes that Bud was a shining star who never allowed the winds of fate to allow his life to become a gloomy picture. Bud found a charming young woman in Angelina and decided to build a life of happiness with her. Deanie realizes that Bud will always consider their time shared together in the Kansas high-school as a watershed developmental experience reflective of the joys of love and the splendor in the grass, even though now they're mostly strangers as adults. Bud has become a man of life, and Deanie drives away from Bud's beautiful ranch realizing that she too should simply consider their time in the splendor in the grass as just a moment in divinity.

DEANIE: Who knows, maybe I can visit Bud and Angelina for Christmas!


"Money is everything" (Ecclesiastes)