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News From the Lake: Inaugural Post, Natalie Wood’s Death, Classic Film Releases


As I start to branch out further into the world of classic cinema, one thing I’ve always wanted to integrate is news.  I’ve dabbled in news related columns so far.  I recall the Classic DVD Report of a few months back that ultimately went nowhere.  With that, I’ve decided to integrate all news into one convenient series: News From the Lake.  Any news items that don’t require a full article will go here, and that includes DVD release info and screenings.  In this inaugural post, I’ll be discussing the recent revelations into Natalie Wood‘s death, and how 20th Century Fox is trying to revitalize their classic DVD series.

It’s been 31 years since Natalie Wood drowned off Santa Catalina Island, and the mystery behind her death continues to haunt her legacy.  On Monday, it was revealed that the L.A. County coroner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran cited that bruises on Wood’s body indicated a beating.   This contradicted the original 1981 autopsy that stated the marks on her body were the result of struggling to get out of the water, bolstered by scratches that appeared on the dinghy that was tied to the Splendour, the boat Natalie owned.  The Wood case was reopened in 2011 under a cloud of suspicion and confusion.  Why exactly was the LAPD interested in this now?  There’s been unconfirmed reports of police brutality and other corruption which caused the LAPD to try to deflect attention by reopening the case.  Regardless, this new evidence probably won’t go anywhere since, at this point, there’s “not enough evidence to classify the case a crime, much less a homicide.”  Crucial evidence has also been destroyed, including the dinghy.  It’s been inconclusive whether Wood’s husband at the time, Robert Wagner, has been re-questioned.  The full story can be found here.

I find the reopening of this case to be silly, and sad; especially for Wood’s two children who are now adults.  I’ve read a lot about Wood and her death, and while it’s always been suspicious I wouldn’t say there’s been any definitive proof of murder.  Do I believe that both Wood and Wagner were intoxicated and that a fight did happen, proving the bruises on her  body to be consistent with a beating?  Yes.  Do I believe that Wagner beat Wood and threw her overboard?  No.  Do I believe that Wagner, in his inebriated state, refused to go look for Wood after she disappeared (which has been alleged by the boat captain who drove the boat that night)?  Yes.  At this point though, the only thing we have is speculation.  The case is 31 years old, the evidence is practically non-existent, and those with information won’t implicate themselves (Wagner, Christopher Walken who was on-board at the time).  The boat captain is also considered an unreliable witness due to his continually changing stories.  I think this is just another dusting off of a popular case that we always see every ten or so years.  Remember how many times they reopened the Tupac/Biggie Smalls cases?  Ultimately, Wood’s story is tragic, no matter what happened.

DVD news this week comes courtesy of 20th Century Fox.  They’ve announced they’re teaming up with the crew of Home Theater Forum to kickstart a campaign called “Voice Your Choice.”  Beginning this month, Fox Studios will be releasing a film on Blu-Ray, that’s voted on you.  You can visit either Home Theater Forum or Fox Connect and cast your vote.  I recently voted and the titles are divided by decade, ranging from 1930s to 1960s.  Off the top of my head, titles included A Little Princess (the Shirley Temple version), Don’t Bother to Knock, and Bedazzled.  On top of that, the 20th Century Fox Studio Classics series has announced a new slate of upcoming releases.  The list is as follows:

1/15 Titanic (1953)
How Green Was My Valley
Wild River
Gentlemen’s Agreement
2/5 Laura
3/26 Panic in the Streets
4/2 Hello, Dolly!
5/7 Viva Zapata!

I have quite a few of the 20th Century Classics DVDs, and they put out a fine presentation.  I’m personally looking forward to Gentleman’s Agreement (the John Garfield Blogathon is coming up at They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To, and I signed up to review that film in particular.) I’m also excited for How Green Was My Valley and Laura!


That’s all the news that’s fit to print.  Come back next time for another trip to News From the Lake!


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Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

2 thoughts on “News From the Lake: Inaugural Post, Natalie Wood’s Death, Classic Film Releases Leave a comment

  1. First time I heard of Natalie having been possibly beaten. It would be sad to think that is the last human touch she had before she drowned alone in that dark cold water. She was so terrfied of draowning. I would hope that if someone loved me even if they were pissed, if i were missing they would come look for me. I would freak if that happened with someone i loved. good report. jk

    • It’s been rumored for decades, but I think this is the first time it’s been widely “proclaimed.” Honestly, I think dredging up and changing this information tries to make the whole thing more exploitative. She’s gone, and by saying she was beaten only hurts her children. Thanks for reading!

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