I caught the end of Splendor in the Grass again last night. I have said it before, how the ending to this film is something that I seem to like to think about when I have nothing else to pour my thoughts over. It is different each time, however, the conclusions I drew from the ending last night were unlike past thoughts inspired in previous viewings.
This time I noticed how Deanie's friend approaches Bud to let him know that Deanie is in the car and would like to see him. He doesn't seem like he wants to see her, he isn't all that excited. Then Deanie runs up the driveway to greet him dressed as a bride and her enthusiasm reminding us of their days in school. For that moment she is as she always was. Once she get's up to him, there is no hug, no pat on the back, not even a handshake from Bud. He does smile and seems genuinely happy to see her, not as excited as she appears to be.
Once again, I view Bud's home as a happy one, it is simple and clean, he has a little boy with a child on the way. He and his wife seem to live as they care too, no mind to the conventions or formalities of the day. Deanie looks around and seems disappointed, nearly cringes. Is picturing herself, for that moment, as his wife, or that she ever wanted to be?
Deanie picks up Bud Jr. and holds him close and the camera shows us the uncomfortable faces of both Bud and Angelina. Once again, it seems that Bud seems uncomfortable with this visit than invested in it in any way. Deanie is the past, a past he left behind along with the death of his sister, father and collapse of a family fortune. He is now free of his responsibilities and the expectations his father once placed on him, it is all, his past. He now created his own family and is living life more on his terms. When this scene begins, we find him happily working on his farm and speaking of new cows purchased.
It is Deanie who put on a pretty dress, and again, for a moment, reminded us of the heartbroken teen who wanted to look good for the dance and wore her red flapper's dress and bobbed her hair. She prepared for the visit, Bud was not prepared and I get the feeling that even if he knew she was coming he would not even had washed his hands and continued working until she arrived.
When she asks Bud if he is happy and he says he doesn't ask himself that very often. I thought, do happy people ask themselves if they are happy? Wouldn't a man who has lost all that Bud has lost take what comes? He's had to. Does Deanie ask this because if she put herself in Angelina's shoes, as Bud's wife, would she be happy with the life Bud now has? Is it hard for her to think she would be happy as Bud's wife and therefore wonders if Bud is happy with what he has after losing the life he had, perhaps a life Deanie liked so much more. Is Deanie pursuing her mother's ambitions after all? She does seem to think marrying a doctor is nice to say, despite not showing much emotion for the doctor himself.
When Bud returns to his wife Angelina, who is looking defeated having been blindsided by this visit, caught in a frock and messy hair, and he asks when they eat... could it be that Deanie's visit had little effect on him? This was a bigger deal for the woman of his past and his wife, not him. Seeing his wife feeling bad, he gives her a passionate kiss, who wouldn't want a kiss like that from Bud?! He loves her, he has a family with her and he is happy?
Does this visit finally allow Deanie to move on? We never see her get excited about her marriage to John the doctor, she always seems so lukewarm about it to me. We never see the wedding, we can only guess that she went through with it.
It is in the car that she seems to find a place to finally place her past with Bud. Does the car ride itself mean she still has a long road ahead? I now think Bud is happy.
The ending is still open. However I am drawing these conclusions:
The ending has been described as devastating, and I think it is only true if you expected the characters or wanted the characters to remain together and even if you wanted to see pining between both characters. I once saw pining between the two but I don't see that anymore. Devastating is Deanie Loomis who became a serious victim of what should have been nothing more than puppy love, her mother's dominance, the times and how breakdowns were viewed...she is now stigmatized.