Wanda (1971)

GP | 100-101 or 105 mins | Drama | March 1971

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HISTORY

Although the onscreen credits include a copyright statement for Foundation for Filmmakers, Wanda was not registered for copyright. The crew credits read, in their entirety, "A film by Barbara Loden with Nicholas T. Proferes." As noted in a Feb 1971 HR news item, Harry Shuster formed Bardene International Films, Inc. specifically to distribute Wanda . Although most reveiws stated that the the film was unrated, Filmfacts listed the rating as GP, while the 3 Apr 1971 LAHExam review listed it as R.
       Loden (1932--1980), who grew up in Asheville, NC, began her career as a model. After performing small roles in Broadway plays and films, Elia Kazan cast her as "Ginny Stamper" in his film Splendor in the Grass (1961, see above) and later as "Maggie" in the Arthur Miller play After the Fall . Although both roles won her critical acclaim, in 1968 she semi-retired from acting after marrying Kazan. Wanda was her debut as a producer, director and writer.
       In contemporary interviews, Loden described the process of producing Wanda , which she called an autobiographical film. After writing the screenplay in 1962, she tried without success to interest studios and directors. When Shuster agreed to finance the film, as Loden noted in a Feb 1971 LAT feature, Loden decided to shoot it herself, using a crew of three. Although Schuster put up the financing, he only received 1/3 interest in the film. The other 2/3 was owned by the nonprofit Foundation for Filmakers, which was composed of Loden, Kazan and attorney Milton Kazan, according to an Apr 1971 ... More Less

Although the onscreen credits include a copyright statement for Foundation for Filmmakers, Wanda was not registered for copyright. The crew credits read, in their entirety, "A film by Barbara Loden with Nicholas T. Proferes." As noted in a Feb 1971 HR news item, Harry Shuster formed Bardene International Films, Inc. specifically to distribute Wanda . Although most reveiws stated that the the film was unrated, Filmfacts listed the rating as GP, while the 3 Apr 1971 LAHExam review listed it as R.
       Loden (1932--1980), who grew up in Asheville, NC, began her career as a model. After performing small roles in Broadway plays and films, Elia Kazan cast her as "Ginny Stamper" in his film Splendor in the Grass (1961, see above) and later as "Maggie" in the Arthur Miller play After the Fall . Although both roles won her critical acclaim, in 1968 she semi-retired from acting after marrying Kazan. Wanda was her debut as a producer, director and writer.
       In contemporary interviews, Loden described the process of producing Wanda , which she called an autobiographical film. After writing the screenplay in 1962, she tried without success to interest studios and directors. When Shuster agreed to finance the film, as Loden noted in a Feb 1971 LAT feature, Loden decided to shoot it herself, using a crew of three. Although Schuster put up the financing, he only received 1/3 interest in the film. The other 2/3 was owned by the nonprofit Foundation for Filmakers, which was composed of Loden, Kazan and attorney Milton Kazan, according to an Apr 1971 DV news item. Once Schuster was paid his share, the rest of the profits was to go into a fund for future films. She stated in that article that she paid herself union scale and costumed co-star Michael Higgins in Kazan’s old clothes.
       As noted in a Jan 1971 London Times Saturday Review article, the story was originally set in the South, but the cost of shooting there, and the need to be near the New York process labs, necessitated a switch to Carbondale and Scranton, mining towns in Pennsylvania. Shot in 16mm, the film cost around $115,000. As noted in a Mar 1971 NYT article, Loden and Proferes edited the footage at her home. In several contemporary sources, she listed Andy Warhol as a inspiration, and stated that although Kazan had little involvement with Wanda , the process inspired him to shoot his own low-budget, small-crew production, 1972's The Visitors .
       Critics responded positively to Loden’s self-professed attempt to buck Hollywood tradition and feature “an ordinary person without any redeeming qualities.” Wanda was chosen as the only American entry in the 1970 Venice Film Festival, where it won the International Critics' Prize for Best Film. It then won acclaim at the London and San Francisco Film Festivals, as it did upon its national release in Feb 1971. In addition to praise for Loden’s naturalist directing techniques, both she and Higgins were lauded, with the LAT reviewer stating that they “deserve to be remembered in the next year’s Oscar race.” Despite the almost universally laudatory reviews, Loden never made another film. She died of breast cancer at age forty-eight. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Feb 1971.
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Daily Variety
31 Aug 1970.
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Daily Variety
2 Apr 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 179-182.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 1971.
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London Sunday Times
17 Jan 1971.
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London Times Saturday Review
16 Jan 1971.
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Los Angeles Herald Examiner
3 Apr 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Feb 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Apr 1971.
---
Motion Picture Herald
Apr 1971.
---
New York Times
1 Mar 1971
p. 22.
New York Times
11 Mar 1971.
---
New York Times
21 Mar 1971
p. 1.
New York Times
25 Apr 1971
p. 11.
Time
22 Mar 1971.
---
Variety
2 Sep 1970
p. 32.
Variety
12 Aug 1971.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Film by Barbara Loden
A Film by Barbara Loden with Nicholas T. Proferes
Harry Shuster Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Lighting
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1971
Premiere Information:
Venice Film Festival screening: 21 August 1970
New York opening: 28 February 1971
Los Angeles opening: 31 March 1971
Production Date:
Fall 1969
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Ektachrome
Duration(in mins):
100-101 or 105
MPAA Rating:
GP
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Near the Pennsylvania coal mines, Wanda Goransky is staying with her sister, resentful brother-in-law and their several small children. Wanda, who has recently abandoned her husband and two children, has no money and so borrows from neighbors to attend her divorce hearing. At the court, she agrees to all her husband’s charges and, stating that the children are better off with him, voices no objection to the divorce. She returns to the clothing factory where she worked a few days, and even after learning that almost her entire salary was deducted for “taxes,” asks for more work. The owner, however, brusquely informs her that she works too slowly, and sends her away. Dejected, Wanda goes to a local bar, and after a traveling salesman buys her a beer, she goes with him to his motel. The next morning, he deserts her at an ice cream stand. After wandering the city streets for hours, she goes to a movie, where her money is stolen after she falls asleep. Later, Wanda enters a closed bar to use the restroom. Mr. Dennis, a robber whom Wanda mistakes for the bar owner, demands that she leave as she attempts to wash up. Stepping into the main room, she asks him for a towel and a drink, failing to notice the bar owner tied up on the floor. Dennis sees someone outside and, nervous about exiting alone, drags Wanda with him to the nearby diner, where he buys her dinner. Despite his silence, she accompanies him to his hotel and sleeps with him. Afterward, Wanda, who calls him “Mr. Dennis,” asks if he wants to know her name, but he says no and refuses ... +


Near the Pennsylvania coal mines, Wanda Goransky is staying with her sister, resentful brother-in-law and their several small children. Wanda, who has recently abandoned her husband and two children, has no money and so borrows from neighbors to attend her divorce hearing. At the court, she agrees to all her husband’s charges and, stating that the children are better off with him, voices no objection to the divorce. She returns to the clothing factory where she worked a few days, and even after learning that almost her entire salary was deducted for “taxes,” asks for more work. The owner, however, brusquely informs her that she works too slowly, and sends her away. Dejected, Wanda goes to a local bar, and after a traveling salesman buys her a beer, she goes with him to his motel. The next morning, he deserts her at an ice cream stand. After wandering the city streets for hours, she goes to a movie, where her money is stolen after she falls asleep. Later, Wanda enters a closed bar to use the restroom. Mr. Dennis, a robber whom Wanda mistakes for the bar owner, demands that she leave as she attempts to wash up. Stepping into the main room, she asks him for a towel and a drink, failing to notice the bar owner tied up on the floor. Dennis sees someone outside and, nervous about exiting alone, drags Wanda with him to the nearby diner, where he buys her dinner. Despite his silence, she accompanies him to his hotel and sleeps with him. Afterward, Wanda, who calls him “Mr. Dennis,” asks if he wants to know her name, but he says no and refuses to answer any questions. Later, he instructs her to bring him some food, and after she leaves, looks at the pictures in her wallet of her husband and children. Dennis is infuriated when he sees Wanda on the street talking to a man and later, when she wanders the hallway calling his name, having forgotten their room number, he slaps her. In the morning, however, he brings her along as he steals a car, and as they drive, he demands that she read the newspaper story about the bar robbery. Although she can barely read, she realizes what Dennis has done and questions him. In response, he commands her to get out of the car, but when she quietly refuses, he allows her to stay. They drive to see his longtime accomplice, but the man, afraid of the risk, backs out of their planned bank robbery. On the road again, Dennis’ migraine headaches plague him, but with Wanda at the wheel, he is finally able to sleep. Later, they rest in a field. As Dennis drinks, he grows more voluble, and suggests that she wear a hat to cover her lank hair. When she responds that she has no money, he states, “If you don’t want anything you won’t have anything, and if you don’t have anything, you’re as good as dead.” As men nearby fly their model airplanes overhead, Dennis climbs onto the car roof to shout at them happily. Hours later, Wanda manages finally to rouse the sleeping Dennis and they drive to a store. After instructing her to buy a hat and dress, he steals from parked cars in the lot. Driving away, he throws her slacks and curlers out the window, declaring they makes her look “cheap.” As they rifle through a pile of stolen clothes, Dennis asks Wanda about her husband, and she states that she was “no good” at being a wife or mother. They continue driving, and although he still refuses to answer her questions, he caresses her legs. Some time later, they reach Dennis’ target, the Third National Bank. After checking out the interior, he goes to the nearby church where his father is attending services. His father tells Dennis that he is a “good boy” who only needs a job, but when Dennis tries to give him money, his father refuses it. Soon after, Dennis asks Wanda to pose as pregnant and be his accomplice. Just before the day of the robbery, she tries to back out, but he reassures her she must go through with the plan. Dennis rehearses with Wanda, who can barely keep track of his simple instructions. The next morning, after Wanda vomits out of fright, they reach the house of bank manager Anderson, where Dennis trains his gun on him. When Anderson fights back, Wanda grabs the gun and subdues him. As she ties up Anderson’s teenaged daughters and wife, Dennis arms a bomb and promises that as long as they return with the money in one hour and fifteen minutes, he will dismantle the explosive and no one will be harmed. Dennis gets in the car with Anderson, with Wanda set to follow them and drive the getaway car. Before driving off, she and Dennis exchange a few tender words. On the way to the bank, Wanda makes an illegal u-turn and is stopped by the police. Forced to go on without her, Dennis reaches the bank and ties up the guard and staff, as Anderson opens the safe. Unknown to Dennis, however, the police have been alerted, and as he fills his bags with cash, the police surround the bank. Finally Wanda finds her way back to bank, but cannot enter, as it is blocked by policemen and a crowd of spectators. Standing in the mob, Wanda watches in horror as Dennis’ body, shot down by the police, is borne away. Later, she sits at a bar in shock, listening to a television newscaster announcing that Dennis has died, the bomb was a dummy and the Andersons are all safe. After a soldier buys her drinks, Wanda leaves with him, but when he tries to have sex with her in his car, she attacks him and runs away through woods, collapsing in tears. She walks on to a roadhouse bar, where a kind woman takes pity on her and introduces her to a large, raucous group. Surrounded by celebratory strangers, Wanda sits in tortured isolation. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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