Saturday, February 20, 2010

Inside Daisy Clover - Film Locations

Inside Daisy Clover (1965)

You would think the film Inside Daisy Clover, with a cast starring Natalie Wood, Christopher Plummer, Robert Redford, Roddy McDowall, and Ruth Gordon would be a somewhat entertaining film. Quite the contrary. This film is terrible! I think what bothers me the most is watching Natalie Wood play a 15 year-old tomboy when she was already in her late twenties. It was really distracting as she doesn't look at all like a teenager. What makes it worse is that Wood's acting is so over exaggerated. Even if Wood's performance isn't considered, the story is weak and emotionless and I don't think any cast could have saved this picture.

Nevertheless, I think the film is worth watching to get some glimpses of the Warner Bros. studio lot as it appeared in the mid-1960s as well as the Santa Monica Pier. In this blog post I have captured some of scenes from both the studio and the pier to compare how the locations appear today.

Santa Monica Pier Merry Ground (Inside Daisy Clover)

Wood plays a teenager in the 1930s with dreams of being a star. At the beginning of the film Wood walks into the old Merry Go-Round building found at the front of the famous Santa Monica Pier to make a record of herself singing. She later sends the recording to the movie studios hoping she will be noticed. Above is a screenshot of the building as seen in the film and below is the same building as it appears today - and it still has the merry go-round!

Merry Go-Round Building, Santa Monica Pier (February 2010)

Santa Monica Pier as seen in Inside Daisy Clover

Above is another shot of the pier as it appears in the film. Below is the same building as it appears on the Santa Monica Pier today.

Building on Santa Monica Pier

Natalie Wood, Ruth Gordon Home

Above is a screenshot showing the trailer that Natalie Wood and Ruth Gordon (Wood's mother in the film) live in located on the pier. Below is a shot looking where the trailer stood in the film. If you look carefully you will notice a funny pointy roof building towards the back of both images.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier Bridge as seen in Inside Daisy Clover

Wood's character does get discovered by Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer), the head of the fictional Swan Studios. He arranges to have Wood picked up from her home on the pier and brought to the studio.

Santa Montica Pier Bridge (February 2010)

Entrance to "Swan Studios"

Above is the entrance to Swan Studios which is really the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank, California. I couldn't tell where this was on the lot immediately, but then I noticed the different rooftops and was able to match them up. If the film was accurate, Wood's chauffeur would be driving towards the exit of the studio, not entering the studio. The studio gate seen in the film is completely fake.

Warner Bros. lot (February 2010)

Roddy McDowall meets Natalie Wood

Above Roddy McDowall, one of the studio execs, meets with Wood at the Swan Studio lot. In the background we can see what is the main executive building on the Warner Bros. lot.

Warner Bros. Executive Building

Roddy McDowall leads Natalie Wood pass soundstage 16, the largest soundstage on the Warner Bros. studio lot.  Below is the same alleyway as it appears today.

Alleyway next to WB Soundstage 16

Entrance to WB Stage 16

Above McDowall and Wood enter soundstage 16. The building to the right is the Mill where they create many of the sets and the set pieces.

WB Soundstage 16 Entrance (February 2010)

Warner Bros. Lot as seen in Inside Daisy Clover

Above is a screenshot showing some of the soundstages on the Warner Bros. lot and below are the same buildings as they appear today. The soundstage where the people are standing in both images is currently being used for the television show Chuck.

Warner Bros. Studio Lot

So, although the film is terrible for entertainment value I still recommend watching this film if you're interested in seeing the Warner Bros. lot and the Santa Monica Pier as they appeared in the 1960s. As you can see from the images, these locations have changed, but not as dramatically as one might think.

You're thoughts?


Daveland said...

Love this stuff! Always fascinating to see the changes. As for Natalie Wood, she was damn lucky to get "West Side Story." Couldn't sing; couldn't dance; and the acting...well, surely they could have gotten a better Maria.

Robby Cress said...

Thanks Dave. And I couldn't agree more about Natalie Wood's casting in "West Side Story." She's a beautiful actress, but as far as the talents that her role required for that film, I'm shocked someone else didn't get the role of Maria.

RoeH said...

I love this blog! I also saw that movie then and kind of thought the same thing....ehhh....soso. It wasn't her best. I've tried to watch since but can't even get through it. Loved these photos though.

Tom said...

Those soundstage photos are neat; did you go on a tour of the studios? And thanks for pointing out that funny pointy roof building on the pier. Cool! I'll have to get a better picture of that one too next time I'm at the pier now that I have a better sense of where it and those scenes were actually filmed.

Diane said...

Loved seeing the changes. I had not heard of this film but will have to check it out to see as you said the WB Studio and Santa Monica Pier.

Robby Cress said...

Hi Tom,

No, I didn't go on the tour as I already have access to the lot, but there are tours available. In fact there were two tour groups who passed me while I was taking my photos. Here's the website if you want to learn more abou the WB tours:

Tom said...

That's awesome that you've got access to the lot! I've been on the tour before, but it would probably take me all day (or more) to try to find where those scenes where filmed!

Hollywood forever, Kevin said...

Robby you are so right not the best movie, but I still enjoy it for some perverse reason. Sometimes bad is good. If want to see Natlie Wood shine watch Splender in the Grass. She had both Robert and Warren under her skin and it shows. ps.thanks for the wonderful blogging

Sarah Mann said...

I kinda liked this movie, but I agree that it was pretty distracting to watch her as a teenager!
I've always wanted to stalk around Santa Monica Pier to see these exact locations, so thanks so much for posting this!

Robby Cress said...

Hi Kevin,

You're right - I can see this film as being a guilty pleasure for some. And I think "Splendor in the Grass" is definitely one of Wood's better films.


Thanks for the comment. I knew I would probably strike a nerve with some for dissing a Wood film - but hey - everyone finds interest in different things :) And you should sure make a trip to the Santa Monica Pier at some point. Especially on a nice day!

Raquel Stecher said...

It doesn't seem like my comments on your blog are going through?

Abe Lucas said...

Once again, welcome back and I've awarded you the One Lovely Blog award:

Robby Cress said...

C.K. Dexter Haven,

Many thanks for the award! Always an honor to be recognized by peers. I'll make sure to follow the rules of the award.

Anonymous said...

bravo for the award cutie! :)

Merriam said...

It is certainly fascinating to see the places the movie was filmed, even though it is a crummy movie. I just hated it.

Unknown said...

Loved Natalie, even in Daisy Clover!

da90027 said...

Sorry but I loved the movie. The only change I would have made is making Daisy older. Natalie's breakdown scene was on the money and the whole movie was very atmosphereic and forboding. I've also heard recordings of Natalie singing the songs from the film that were not used and she does an adequate job. 30's singers were not great to begin with. My 2 cents, the film gets better with each viewing for me.

Robby Cress said...

Hi da90027. I think I'll have to give the film a few more runs - see if it is one of those films that grows on me :)

Di Di 2010 said...

Sorry- got to disagree. I saw the movie as a teen-ager when it first came out. Loved it then-still love it today (when I watched it again). Not necessarily for the story or having to stretch my imagination to believe Natalie was a 15 year old.I love the old Hollywood behind the scenes, the cars, the beautiful homes and sets. Robby do you happen to know what homes were used? The sanitarium reminded me of Pauline Frederick's home. I know the Malibu beach house blown up had belonged to silent star Barbara La Marr. Enjoy your blog-thanks for the photos.

50sme said...

I just watched "Inside Daisy Clover" on TCM. I had been looking forward to watching it on one of my Sunday classic movie-a-thons which I end with a new Mad Men episode on Sunday nights. (perfect cherry on top) Anyhow, I was kind of dissappointed with 'Daisy'.I tried to get into it but I just couldn't. Natalie really bored the heck out of me in this one. In fact the only one that didn't bore me was Ruth Gordon but I was teetering on that one too. Needless to say, "Inside Daisy Clover" is not on my list of favorites.

Unknown said...

Interesting sidenote on this film... it the movie William Frawley, of I Love Lucy fame, saw moments before he collapsed and died of a massive heart attack on Hollywood Boulevard on March of 1966.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice the tree across from the building (courthouse?) in the April, 2010 shot? It looks to be the same tree from the "Inside Daisy Clover" movie still. Amazing! Considering that it bends so far to the right. I can't believe it's still there...I wonder how old it is?
I think IDC is not a great movie--terrible script.
However, I thought Natalie Wood made the perfect Maria in WSS.
Even Deborah Kerr ("The King and I") and Audrey Hepburn ("My Fair Lady")were dubbed; it was a very common practice in Hollywood.
Rita Moreno was dubbed in WSS, by Betty Wand; Just about everyone who had a singing part in WSS was dubbed, except Tucker Smith.

Love your site and appreciate all of the work you have put into it.
Thanks, Kevin R.

tovangar2 said...

The "funny, pointy-roofed building" you pointed out in the background of Natalie's & Ruth Gordon's home on the SM Pier is the Merry-Go-Round building. Look it up on Google images

Unknown said...

Inside Daisy Clover is a fantastic film. the cast is great and the film is great.......

simmone said...

Thank you - I loved this post. I like the film mainly for the scenery but I have to say that the book is one of my favourite reads in the world. All of Gavin Lambert's HOllywood novels/stories paint such a vivid portrait of LA ... I wondered if you know of many films that are set in Venice around the 60s 70s?
Thanks, Simmone

Robby Cress said...

Hi Simmone,

I've covered two films from the 1970s that have filmed in Venice. Here are the links to the posts:



I'm sure I'll get around to more in the future.

Unknown said...

I actually own the very RECORD BOOTH that Natalie Wood used at the Santa Monica Pier in "INSIDE DAISY CLOVER". These booths are extremely rare as it is (only about 100 were ever made), and this is the only one ever seen with windows. The booth actually still has the scratch in the wood to the left of the window seen in the opening sequence. The booth is not a prop -it's real and WORKS! And here's the really strange thing: it has doodling in it from its lifetime spent at Graumans Chinese Theatre, including "James Dean" scratched into the woodwork looking very very similar to known handwriting of James Dean.Email me at and I'll send photos!

Unknown said...

I agree Natalie Wood was a very fine actress, esp in Splendor.


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