From Owen Gleiberman‘s 1.31.20 review of “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind” (HBO, 5.5): “Robert Wagner acknowledges that [he and Natalie] had quarreled earlier in the evening, which is hardly incriminating. But in the documentary, he also tries to explain away tension between himself and [Wood’s Brainstorm costar] Chris Walken — and does so by recounting an exchange the two had about Wood’s career, in which Walken said he thought Wood should be working more, a suggestion Wagner balked at. Wagner felt that Walken needed to mind his own business.
“But then Wagner says something that surprises us: During the argument with Walken, he got so annoyed that he smashed a wine bottle on the table.
“That’s a confession of major anger, one that can’t help but give us pause. The film then mentions the fact that the case was reopened, in 2011, after Dennis Davern, the yacht’s captain, said he’d originally lied to the police; the new scenario he presented claimed that Wagner was responsible for Wood’s death. The law has rejected that scenario, with Wagner, in 2018, having been named as a ‘person of interest’ in the case. Which is not the same thing as a suspect.
“But the 2011 developments raised more doubts about the basic question of what had happened, and the documentary, in not interviewing Dennis Davern (or exploring his version of the events), leaves the audience hanging.
“All of this can seem tasteless and macabre. Yet I think one of the reasons that Natalie Wood’s death still haunts us — and that we almost need a conspiracy to explain it — is that on screen, though perhaps not quite a great actress, she was always such a life force. She made you feel something, because her own feelings were so vivid. She was the movie star as open book, with her own saucy splendor.”
Wood’s best performances (in this order): Inside Daisy Clover, Splendor in the Grass, This Property Is Condemned, Love with the Proper Stranger, West Side Story, Rebel Without a Cause.