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Me, Natalie
CinematographyArthur J. Ornitz

Me, Natalie is a 1969 American comedy-drama film directed by Fred Coe. The screenplay by A. Martin Zweiback is based on an original story by Stanley Shapiro. The film stars Patty Duke, James Farentino, Salome Jens, Elsa Lanchester, Nancy Marchand, Martin Balsam and Al Pacino in his film debut.


From childhood, Brooklyn teenager Natalie Miller, with upper front teeth that are slightly bucked and a nose too large for her face, has considered herself homely and she never has subscribed to her mother's determined belief that she will grow up to be pretty. Her best friend Betty is a knockout gorgeous blonde with boyfriends, which further depresses her. Natalie's father, a druggist who doesn't share his wife's optimistic outlook, bribes myopic optometrist Morris to marry her, hoping his nearsightedness will prevent him from seeing she's no beauty.

After she discovers her father's plan, Natalie leaves home and moves to Greenwich Village, where she rents an apartment from eccentric Miss Dennison and sets out to enjoy a Bohemian lifestyle. She finds employment as a cocktail waitress at the Topless Bottom Club and befriends drug-addicted go-go dancer Shirley Norton. Although she contemplates suicide after discovering her aspiring artist lover David Harris is married, he finally convinces her she's a worthwhile human being and not the ugly duckling she imagines herself to be.

Principal cast[]

  • 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)

Critical reception[]

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."[2]

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."[3]

TV Guide considers the film "somewhat bland" but calls Duke "a wonder" and adds, "Handled by a lesser actress, the results might have seemed more stereotypical, but Duke is convincing."[4]

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)

See also[]

  • List of American films of 1969


  1. "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  2. 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.
  3. Ebert, Roger. "Me, Natalie Movie Review and Film Summary". Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  4. "Me, Natalie". TVGuide. Retrieved September 5, 2016.

External links[]