The original primetime soap took place in the title town, which was founded by the Peyton family, whose members included the Harringtons. Some of the plots involved Rodney Harrington, the ... See full summary »
A struggling young actress with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.
It's the pre-WWII era. Peyton Place is a small town in New England, whose leading adult citizens rule the town with their high moral standards, which they try to pass on to their offspring. The adults, especially those that wield power largely through their positions and/or through their wealth, will not tolerate anything they believe morally improper, even if there is a hint of impropriety without comprehensive evidence to back up the hints. As their offspring grow from teenagers to adults, the offspring learn that there is much hypocrisy by the adults lying underneath that façade of proper Christian morals. The offspring begin to rebel in different ways, which is brought to public scrutiny with the arrival into town of an "outsider", the new young high school principal Michael Rossi, and through a murder trial. Written by
Susan Strasberg was initially set to play Allison. However, when she upped her salary, she was fired. For a short period, Debbie Reynolds was set to replace her. Eventually, 20 famous actresses were tested before the unknown Diane Varsi got the role. See more »
When Mr. Rossi introduces Miss Thornton at the senior prom, the audience is heard applauding a moment before they are actually seen applauding. See more »
[to the other girls, while she's trying on a revealing red dress in Mrs. MacKenzie's shop]
Just remember: men can see much better than they can think. Believe me, a low-cut neckline does more for a girl's future than the entire Britannica encyclopedia.
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When I saw "Peyton Place" recently on AMC for the first time, my thought was: "This is it? This is what drove the puritans into a foaming frenzy 42 years ago? There's more filth and dirt in the dumpster!" While it's true that the world has taken more than a few spins since 1957, and while it's true that the film tends to date a bit, "Peyton Place" is still, at it's best, top-notch entertainment.
Lana Turner, in what was, regrettably, her only Oscar-nomination, scores solidly as the pivotal character of Constance McKenzie. Diane Varsi, whose life and career would go out of control soon after (remember "Wild in the Streets?"), is equally compelling as Allyson McKenzie, her daughter. Arthur Kennedy lends his usual understated but powerful presence to the principal heavy of the piece, Lucas Cross, and the young Hope Lange, whom a later generation probably remembers best for TV's "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," gives a solid performance as Selena Cross, the girl with a secret from the wrong side of the tracks. Others in the notable cast include such reliable performers as Lloyd Nolan, Russ Tamblyn, Betty Field, and a two years pre - "Bonanza" Lorne Greene, all turning in fine performances.
If you can, see this film in letterbox, if only for the beautiful Camden, Maine, scenery, beautifully captured by William C. Mellor's cameras. And, if you don't think this film's been influential, look at all it's successors, including the only TV series ever to have been on three times a week during the '60's, and today's "Dawson's Creek" and "Melrose Place." Here's the film that started it all, though, and it's still solid entertainment, especially if you put yourself in a late-'50's mindset while watching it.
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