|Directed by||Fred Coe|
|Produced by||Stanley Shapiro|
|Screenplay by||A. Martin Zweiback|
|Story by||Stanley Shapiro|
|Music by||Henry Mancini|
|Cinematography||Arthur J. Ornitz|
|Edited by||John McSweeney Jr.|
|Distributed by||National General Pictures|
|July 13, 1969|
|Box office||$1.9 million (US/Canada rentals)|
Me, Natalie is a 1969 American comedy-drama film directed by Fred Coe about a homely young woman from Brooklyn who moves to Greenwich Village and finds romance with an aspiring painter. The screenplay by A. Martin Zweiback is based on an original story by Stanley Shapiro. Patty Duke, who starred in the title role, won a Golden Globe Award for her performance. The film also starred James Farentino, Salome Jens, Elsa Lanchester, Martin Balsam and Nancy Marchand. It marked Al Pacino's film debut.
From childhood, Brooklyn teenager, Natalie Miller, who has upper front teeth that are slightly bucked, and a nose too large for her face, has considered herself to be homely, and has never subscribed to her mother's determined belief that she will grow up to be pretty. By contrast, her best friend, Betty, is a popular and beautiful blonde cheerleader who has been going steady with the handsome Stanley since junior high school. Natalie's efforts to become a cheerleader herself, impress a blind date, and attend her graduation dance all fail. She is briefly cheered up by her beloved Uncle Harold, who tells her that someday a man will look beyond her face, and see her good inner qualities, but she becomes disillusioned after Harold gets engaged to a sexy, voluptuous go-go dancer, Shirley. Believing that Harold chose Shirley based on her looks, Natalie regards Shirley with contempt, and when Harold dies suddenly, avoids attending his funeral.
A year later, Natalie encounters Shirley, who has turned to drugs in her grief over Harold. Natalie sees that Shirley and Harold really did love each other, and that Shirley's physical attractiveness has not brought her happiness. Natalie's parents worry because she has been expelled from college, has not found a job, and has no boyfriends or marital prospects. They try to arrange dates for her, and her father attempts to bribe Morris, an unattractive aspiring optometrist, to marry her. After learning of the bribery scheme, an incensed Natalie moves out of her parents' apartment, planning to move in with Shirley in Manhattan.
Upon arriving at Shirley's bohemian apartment building in Greenwich Village, Natalie finds that Shirley has committed suicide. Natalie rents and fixes up Shirley's vacant apartment, and gets a cocktail waitress job at the "Topless Bottomless Club". Natalie is attracted to her downstairs neighbor, David Harris, an architect, who has left his job for three months to pursue his dream of becoming a painter. Having dismissed David as a "sex pervert" because he is usually painting beautiful nude female models, she is taken aback when David finds her face "interesting" and asks her to model for him. Their friendship gradually grows into a romance, with Natalie encouraging his painting aspirations and David building her self-confidence. However, just after Natalie sees her old friend, Betty, make an unhappy marriage due to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, Natalie discovers David is actually married to a wealthy, beautiful woman and has two young sons.
After a confrontation, David reassures Natalie that he really loves her and he will go back to his family home, end his marriage, and return to her. At first Natalie waits eagerly in his apartment for his return, but as time goes by she feels guilty about separating him from his family. Finally she writes David a farewell letter, saying she will always love him but expressing the wish to take responsibility for her own happiness, and leaves.
- Patty Duke as Natalie Miller
- James Farentino as David Harris
- Salome Jens as Shirley Norton
- Elsa Lanchester as Miss Dennison
- Martin Balsam as Uncle Harold
- Nancy Marchand as Mrs. Miller
- Philip Sterling as Mr. Miller
- Deborah Winters as Betty Simon
- Ron Hale as Stanley Dexter
- Bob Balaban as Morris
- Al Pacino as Tony
- Catherine Burns as Hester
- Ann Thomas as Mrs. Schroder
- Matthew Cowles as Harvey Belman
- Milt Kamen as Plastic Surgeon
- Robert Frink as Freddie
- Dennis Allen as Max
- Robyn Morgan as Natalie Miller (age 7)
In his review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called the film "an artificial mess of wisecracks and sentimentality" and added, "Locales and a gummy musical score by Henry Mancini and Rod McKuen are among the things constantly impinging on Me, Natalie. Another is Coe's apparent indecision as to whether the movie is a character study or a gag comedy. Mostly it's just gags, delivered abrasively by Miss Duke, who is even less effective when registering pathos."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times found it to be "as conventional and corny as warmed-over "Young at Heart" . . . a pleasant film, very funny at times . . . Patty Duke, as Natalie, supplies a wonderful performance."
Awards and nominations
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Patty Duke, winner)
- Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show (nominee)
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen (nominee)
- "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970, p. 15
- Yule, Andrew (1992). Al Pacino: A Life On the Wire. New York: S.P.I. Books. p. 27. ISBN 9781561711611.
- Me, Natalie on IMDb
- Canby, Vincent (July 14, 1969). "The Screen: 'Me, Natalie':Patty Duke Plays Ugly Teen-ager in Coe Film". The New York Times. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
- Ebert, Roger (8 August 1969). "Me, Natalie Movie Review and Film Summary". RogerEbert.com. Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Me, Natalie". TVGuide. Retrieved September 5, 2016.