- Daisy Miller (1974 film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich Produced by Peter Bogdanovich
Screenplay by Frederic Raphael Based on The novella by:
Starring Cybill Shepherd
Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino Cinematography Alberto Spagnoli Editing by Verna Fields Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) May 22, 1974 Running time 91 min. Country United States Language English
The title character is a beautiful, flirtatious, nouveau riche young American visiting a Swiss spa with her nervously timid, talkative mother and spoiled, xenophobic younger brother Randolph. There she meets upper class expatriate American Frederick Winterbourne, who is warned about her reckless ways with men by his dowager aunt Mrs. Costello.
When the two are reunited in Rome, Winterbourne tries to convince Daisy her keeping company with suave Italian Mr. Giovanelli, who has no status among the locals, will destroy her reputation with the aristocracy, including socialite Mrs. Walker, who is offended by her behavior and vocal about her disapproval. Daisy is too carelessly naive to take either of them seriously.
Winterbourne is torn between his feelings for Daisy and his moral upbringing, and he is unable to tell how she really feels about him beneath her facade of willful abandon. When he meets her and Giovanelli in the Colosseum one evening, he decides Daisy is too common for him to love and lets her know it. Heartbroken by his abrupt rejection, she fails to take precautions against the malaria Winterbourne warns her is caught by wandering in the unhealthy night air, becomes ill, and dies a few days later. This final rash action leads Winterbourne to wonder how his staunchly conservative beliefs may have contributed to her fate.
- Cybill Shepherd ..... Daisy Miller
- Barry Brown ..... Frederick Winterbourne
- Cloris Leachman ..... Mrs. Ezra Miller
- Mildred Natwick ..... Mrs. Costello
- Eileen Brennan ..... Mrs. Walker
- James McMurtry ..... Randolph Miller
- Duilio Del Prete ..... Mr. Giovanelli
Variety described the film as "a dud" and added, "Cybill Shepherd is miscast in the title role. Frederic Raphael's adaptation of the Henry James story doesn't play. The period production by Peter Bogdanovich is handsome. But his direction and concept seem uncertain and fumbled. Supporting performances by Mildred Natwick, Eileen Brennan and Cloris Leachman are, respectively, excellent, outstanding, and good."
The New York Times said the movie "works amazingly well." It congratulated Shepherd for [catching] "the gaiety and the directness of Daisy, the spontaneity of a spoiled but very likable person. She also manages to be thoughtless without playing dumb or dizzy, and to convey that mixture of recklessness and innocence that bewildered the other Jamesian characters." Bogdanovich was praised for providing "a sensitive glimpse of the hypocrisies and contradictions of the past—without one whiff of nostalgia."
TV Guide rates it one out of a possible four stars and calls it "truly a dud in spite of handsome sets and an intelligent writing job. James is, to say the least, hard to adapt for the screen, but this job becomes hopeless because of Shepherd's shallow performance."
Time Out London says, "Bogdanovich's nervous essay in the troubled waters of Henry James, where American innocence and naiveté are in perpetual conflict with European decadence and charm, reveals him to be less an interpreter of James than a translator of him into the brusquer world of Howard Hawks. The violence done James in this is forgivable—indeed, Cybill Shepherd's transformation of Daisy into a Hawks heroine is strangely successful—but as a result there is no real social conflict in the film, and it becomes just a period variant on The Last Picture Show, without the vigour of that film or the irony of the original James novel."
Awards and nominations
Films directed by Peter Bogdanovich 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
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