Crime / Drama

IMDb Rating 7.1 10 2,179


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March 31, 2019



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855.33 MB
23.976 fps
102 min
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1.63 GB
23.976 fps
102 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by theskulI42 9 / 10 / 10

Devastatingly barren void = incredible verite experience

A stark and deliberate downer of a character study, Barbara Loden's Wanda is a captivating and unfairly forgotten addition to the indie American New Wave, that also shows the indie American New Wave what 'indie' REALLY means. The film's theatrical non-history is well documented in each review of the film: Wanda was screened, briefly, in one theater in New York, was fairly acclaimed, then vanished, before being championed by the European crowd a decade later, and perhaps finally getting a bit of the credit it deserves by appearing on the TSPDT top 1000 films list, which was, like many other obscurities, excellent and terrible alike, my impetus for seeing it. The film is a grim and protracted look at a aimless, desultory layabout named Wanda (director Barbara Loden). She abandons her husband and children (we are witness to their divorce proceedings, he annoyed and impatient, she blank and tardy), and hers is a life filled with ennui and survival. She sleeps on couches, drinks and smokes to excess and goes home with men just to have a roof over her head. One night, she enters a closed bar, and finds a pacing man named Mr. Dennis (Michael Higgins) who turns out to be robbing the place. She follows him back to his hotel room, and ends up accompanying him on a sort of pseudo-road trip (in a stolen car, no less), packed to the gills with the Cassavetes special: two broken people (one volatile and dominating, the other crumpling and submissive) who somehow sort of counteract one another. There is an emptiness to this film that recalls the ennui of the characters in one of the all-time greats, Antonioni's L'Avventura, but here, it's saddening in a more personal way because we are meant to empathize with the wastrel at the film's core. She is a hollow vacuum, devoid of interest and barren of meaning, so she is constantly on the move, but oblivious and unable to attach herself in any meaningful way to anything in her world. By the time she's getting inexplicably drafted into a bank robbery, it becomes clear that perhaps she's content to stay with Dennis simply because he'll put up with her and never follows through on his threats of expulsion. Wanda features a cast of stiff, amateurish male actors, with an actress at its core whose performance is virtuoso in its realism. There's not a single moment in the film that doesn't feel natural, and with its slow pace, down-to-earth plot line, and the rough graininess of the film stock itself (it was filmed on 16mm and blown up to 35mm), it resembles nothing more than a heartbreaking bit of documentary film-making, as I have absolutely zero doubt that there are hundreds upon thousands of people in these exact sort of situations, uninhabited shells sleepwalking through life, finding nothing and accepting it readily.. Barbara Loden, despite being married to a fellow director, Elia Kazan, made this film, and this film only, and it's really quite sad in its own right. It took John Cassavetes, an acknowledged master, 15 years to make something in this style with the confidence and impact that Barbara Loden got on her first try, and really, I feel shortchanged because, unlike her titular character, Barbara Loden had all the potential in the world, but sadly, almost none of that energy became kinetic, as this heartbreaking f_ck-up ended up her last cinematic will and testament. But the legacy of Wanda endures, and I hope this review will do as much as possible to strengthen it. {Grade: 8.75/10 (A-/B+) / #5 (of 28) of 1970}

Reviewed by NORDIC-2 10 / 10 / 10

Unspeakably sad

Beautiful and talented, Barbara Loden (1932-1980) emerged from rural "white trash" poverty in Depression-era Marion, North Carolina to become a cover girl, Broadway and film actress (best remembered for her role as Ginny Stamper, Warren Beatty's sister in Splendor in the Grass), a budding feminist, and the second wife of Elia Kazan. 'Wanda' is Loden's only film—sadly she died of cancer at age 48 while planning a film version of Kate Chopin's 'The Awakening'—but what a film is 'Wanda' Written, directed by, and starring Loden, 'Wanda' follows the misfortunes of the sort of woman that Loden might have become had she not been so gifted. Inspired by a newspaper story about Wanda Garanowski, a woman so meek and demoralized she actually thanked a judge for sending her to prison, Loden created Wanda Goronski, a dispirited thirty-something working-class derelict from the coal country of north- central Pennsylvania with no real life prospects. Legally deemed an unfit mother, Wanda is stripped of her children and separated from her exasperated husband. A desultory attempt at employment in a mill soon ends in dismissal. At loose ends, Wanda meets Mr. Norman Dennis (Michael Higgins), a tough-talking low life drifter who is in the midst of robbing a bar that Wanda wanders into. Mr. Dennis treats Wanda like dirt but she passively accepts his abuse as appropriate to her lowly station in life. Eventually Dennis dies in a botched bank robbery, leaving Wanda to once again fend for herself in a brutally indifferent world. So much for plot but plot is secondary; 'Wanda' is essentially a character study depicting the life of a representative semi-literate blue-collar woman. As Loden told interviewer McCandlish Phillips, Wanda's "trapped and she will never, ever get out of it and there are millions like her" (New York Times March 11, 1971, p. 32). At a time when affluent professionals like Gloria Steinem were leading the so-called "second wave" feminist movement, Barbara Loden had the political courage and wherewithal to link women's oppression to social class: a move that makes 'Wanda' an enduringly valuable social document. Shot and edited by Loden and cinema verité documentary filmmaker Nicholas Proferes, 'Wanda' has a grim, gritty immediacy that makes for an unforgettable viewing experience. Lost to the world for 35 years, Wanda was commendably released in 2006 by Parlour Pictures, a new DVD label.

Reviewed by Bmoviedude61 10 / 10 / 10

Amazing Film

TCM made its debut showing of Wanda tonight -- which also happens to be the day Barbara Loden passed away in 1980. Coincidence or not, this film just blew me away. No doubt the cinema verite feel -- and sense of grittiness -- is enhanced by use of the hand-held 16mm camera and having the print blown up to 35mm. That grainy enlargement process just adds to the feel of the dying rust belt goal region around Scranton circa 1970. The image of Wanda, dressed in white, walking through the barren landscape of mined out areas and the piles of black coal and slag around her, is surreal. It's a jarring image, an angel gliding amidst decay. Is she flotsam on the ebb tide, with no course or direction? The fact she participates in the hostage taking of the banker's family shows she has some resolve, when called upon to make a choice. I could watch this movie a dozen more times and find something new each time. The long-gone scenes of Woolworth's and other extinct businesses just adds to the melancholia for me. A must see, and re-see, and I wish Ms. Loden had left us with more films she directed.

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