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He’d done lots of episodic TV but only one feature, an intelligent but largely forgotten low-budget United Artists production, War Hunt, which is unique in that three supporting castmembers went on to win best director Oscars: Redford for Ordinary People; Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather: Part II; and Sydney Pollack, who would direct Redford in seven films, including Out of Africa.
With Clover, THR was a fan of both the film, which it said “will be a big hit,” and Redford — “a young leading man of great charm and promise.” The film’s plot centers on a 15-year-old waif (Natalie Wood, then 26, in what was her 38th movie) who is discovered by a Hollywood producer (Christopher Plummer) while selling vintage celebrity photos on the Santa Monica pier. She quickly becomes a star and marries a fellow actor, played by Redford, who is secretly gay. (Redford has said the character is not explicitly gay but “mysterious, arrogant and charming, attractive to both sexes.”)
Clover — which earned Redford the Golden Globes’ new star of the year award — was one of the first Hollywood films in which a gay character is not ashamed of his sexuality. It grossed only $1.5 million ($12 million today) but went on to become a cult classic.
This story first appeared in a December stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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