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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although based on a John O'Hara novel, "From the Terrace" is another
'Young Philadelphians': a smart, heavy-going family melodrama, set from
the late forties to the late fifties, with Newman as an angry young
opportunist from Philadelphia
Again the moral (which undoubted1y attracted him) is that the drive for wealth and power corrupts innocence and love Here there's more of a motivation, the old reliable one: his father hates him... He tells his cold, nasty father (Leon Ames), "All I ever wanted was to be friends with you," then defiantly rejects the family's fairly substantial steel mill He wants moreto make $5 million by age forty, to be better than his old man
On his way up the cynical path to Wall Street, he ignores his marriage, driving his once-sweet wife (Woodward) to bitchery and into the bed of an old flame He works intensively to become a high financier, but suddenly realizes how empty his life is; unlike Tony Lawrence ("The Young Philadelphians"), he drops out completely, leaving his failed marriage and flourishing career to marry a wholesome small-town woman
Newman battles valiantly with incredible soap opera contrivances, crises and inflated dialog, but he loses He's worst in his scenes with the decent young woman (Ina Balin), because the relationship is improbable, their talk about love is slow, and he's not convincing as the shy, gentle lover We've seen him earlier as sexually confident and aggressive, and besides, Newman is not very good at expressing tenderness
He's excellent at the beginning, indicating bitterness toward his father with contemptuous facial expressions, although here, as elsewhere, his tendency to show tension or self-absorption by blinking and looking away during conversations is overdone
But with Woodward, he and the film really come to life During their first meetings, as he comes on strong and she resists, the antagonism, flavored with overtones of desperate sexuality, reminds us of "The Long, Hot Summer." Then, in their marriage, the roles are reversed: he becomes immersed in business, and she becomes sexually frustrated, creating a highly-charged tension between them
There's a beautifully acted scene near the end when, like Maggie the Cat, she pathetically flaunts her sexuality at him and he merely sits there with a world-weary look Ironically, Woodward make the wife so vital and pathetic that it's hard to accept her as a bitch, and the ending makes little sense...
This is a wonderful movie. Gorgeous Newman, bitchy Woodward, sad Loy, great performances all around, with fabulous sets and costumes. Plus a wonderful story about the marriage of two of the beautiful people, with lots of sex and scandal and romance and fun bitchiness throughout. They had to tone down the sex in the book of course, for a 1960 movie, but if you read between the lines you will be amazed how sexy this movie really is. If you like movies about the rich and how they once lived, even if it's all fantasy, you will like this. Oh yes it's all kind of silly looking at it today, but they don't make movies like this anymore. Watch it for the sheer fun of it. But don't take it seriously. Just let yourself lay back and wallow.
Paul Newman is doing his angry young man thing here, and Joanne Woodward is wonderful as she goes from rebellious rich brat to shrewish, slutty harridan. It's beautifully filmed with lots of sumptuous sets and it's obvious that a good part of the budget went to costumes. If you like movies with boozy, unhappy rich people who do little more than snipe at each other, you've got to see "From the Terrace."
This engaging 1960 Hollywood production anticipated a coming decade of
changing values in America. Its script teeters a bit, emphasizing a bit
more the strain of the love conflict rather than the story's real essence.
This is an easy mark for critics standing by with sharp knives who may then
view it as superficial. However, its real drama depicts the changing
generations of an America where at one time successes was measured only by
the bank account and social prominence and not by integrity, the
ramifications of truth in character.
Here, we see the contrasting generations in conflict. The Old Guard embraced expediency and placed the home and its values second to business success. Once in a while, a young man came along with enough awareness to see the lie in this doctrine. FROM THE TERRACE is in its pure essence the story about such a young man. This was done with a bit more success a few years before in THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT but this drama is certainly worthwhile seeing. It is well cast and played with production values that at the time were the best that Hollywood could offer. This includes an outstanding music score by Elmer Bernstein.
Reading the comments on this movie tells me a lot about our culture at the
dawn of the 21st century. Yes, by today's standards this movie seems to
slow and a is little dull. It was made before pornography passing for
entertainment was permitted. It contains lots of subtlety and innuendo. It
was considered racy when it was made.
One of my favorite scenes is when Mrs. Eaton is talking to her husband on the phone about her lover. You never see the lover in the scene, but at the end, you realize he's been in the bed all along. Another favorite scene is when Mrs. Eaton meets her husband's lover for the first time. It is in the car afterward that she asks what this woman call's Mr. Eaton.
The only disappointment is the superficial way the film treats marriage. No children are involved in this marriage and it only deals with how the husband and wife consider their lives. It tries to make a case for divorce and treats the subject far too lightly.
As a youngster, I saw Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in person, a few
years after they finished this picture, in New York. They were
appearing on Broadway in a comedy called "Baby Want A Kiss," and I was
passing by Sardi's on 44th Street, I believe. First to come out was
drop dead gorgeous Joanne, still wearing her FROM THE TERRACE hairstyle
(shoulder-length pageboy flip) & dark movie star sunglasses,
accompanied by two men in suits. She ignored the crowd who screamed,
"Joanne, over here!" "Hi, Joanne!" Next, Paul Newman came out (two
suited men on either side) as he held a cocktail glass in his hand.
Obviously on his fourth or fifth drink, he looked like Alfred Eaton in
TERRACE. But, unlike Joanne, he smiled and flashed the bluest eyes I've
ever seen! He even toasted the screaming crowd. Women AND men were
Personally, I loved FROM THE TERRACE. I was just fascinated by all the glamour, wealth, sex, adultery and sheer drama (especially between Leon Ames (Paul's father) and Newman.
Joanne as Mary St. John was a stone nympho, similar to Susanne Pleshette's over-sexed character in another John O'Hara book-to-film, A RAGE TO LIVE.
It was just a joy to see Woodward wear all those fabulous clothes and look spectacular in those hairdos and 60's makeup (it was all in the eyes!) After getting propositioned on the dance floor, Mary rebuked the man who knew "all about her..." donned a tremendously long white satin coat and "floated" like a regal queen to the limo (hair in a French Roll and a tiara!) Gorgeous.
Yes, she was an adulteress, but what was a "hungry" girl like her to do when her husband didn't want to touch her?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Paul Newman has many more famous roles...but for some reason, this is one of
my all time favorite movies of his. It comes on the Love Stories, AMC, or
TCM cable channels every here and now...or you could just buy it like I
He's nice, determined, well-meaning Alfred Eaton, who starts off with lofty, wealthy ideas about what is important in life...the right woman, the right career, the right friends...and showing them all how important he can be when he has them. Ultimately, he learns that what is important is only what feels right to him alone.
I love his story of personal discovery as much as his love affair story with Natalie. Alfred and Natalie have this beautiful scene where they are saying goodbye, they're barely touching, but it's the most painfully romantic thing to see.
Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward have some excellent scenes in this movie also with real good comeback dialogue. He's the hardworking, decent man and she's the desperate-to-impress and just plain desperate society wife. She self-righteously and hurtfully accuses him of adultery with a girl with no guts when she's been sleeping with her ex-fiancee all along. She actually calls her lover and arranges a tryst while her husband is in the room!!!! She has guts!!!! Unbeknownst to her, Alfred has exhaustingly if unaffectedly (if you can look unaffected and disgusted at the same time, that is) done his best to makes her invisible in the room, but she probably just becomes invisible without any real effort on his part to make her so by that point. Their voices just have the most impactful tones...especially when they get to play off of each other. I can play their final scene over and over again where she says she won't give him a divorce and he says,"Any further communication between you and me will be through legal channels." He has the most genuine smile on that handsome face in that moment than through the entire movie!!!!!
This movie is actually pretty long, but not a moment is wasted. It all comes together in the end when Alfred finally chooses what he actually wants instead of what he's supposed to want.
Maybe it's because it's so subtle and not at all like a "movie" that it seems to be largely overlooked by everyone except me and 20 other people. Paul Newman is one fine, naturally classy actor, I say.
I guess they butchered the book to keep the movie within 2 hours. The book has subtleties and plots that make this an INTERESTING chronicle of life in the 20th century for a typical upper class white male. This movie is not interesting. This features a good cast -- Newman and Woodward and Patrick O'Neal. Newman takes the harder path to success, wins the girl of his dreams (Woodward) and should live happily ever after. For some reason he falls head over heels with a girl 20 years his junior and his wife decides at the same time to return to college boyfriend O'Neal. The movie somehow manages to make Woodward look like a tramp and Newman like a long-suffering man. In reality they are both cheating. So I guess hollywood couldn't admit that there was a guaranteed network of prep school and clubs for the white protestant male. They had to rewrite the book to make it appear like Newman struggled. Then the entire WW2 sequence so important to the plot of the book is skipped which means we have a happy ending instead of a man who ends up a pathetic loser.
John O'Hara;s writings, and there are many, seldom got translated to film well. Ten North Frederick and A Rage to Live are other efforts that are not worthy of the novels. O'Hara had better luck on the stage with plays like Pal Joey but his great novels just were just too big and detailed to make the move. He had a hand in the screenplay for this movie so he does share some of the blame. His great success as a writer flows from his great knowledge of the U.S. and its sexual mores in from say 1900 to 1920. This is a time when people apparently did not have sex but O'Hara makes it plain they did and made an effort to do so. Recommend his writings but the films failed and that is just so tragic. A critic once wrote that O'Hara's novels are like huge ancient ruins that when stumbled upon, the discover can not determine why they were built. That remark was written about 20 years after his death just about the time that all artists fall out of favor before their merits are rediscovered and the value of their work is confirmed.
Yes this is a perfectly awful late 50's movie but I watched the mess until its unbelievable ending. The film is flawed for me from the start with the period set in the late 1940's but hey look its really 1960. The clothes, hairstyles and decor are wrong and annoying for the period that the film is suppose to be set in. I know that this was the general practice of Hollywood in the 50's and 60's and it always bothers me. The film was based on a long novel by John O'Hara, which happily I never read, and the film clocking in at 2 1/2 hours is a bore and a chore. Badly directed by Mark Robson who early in his career directed some nice B movies for Val Lewton but who went on to make such schlocky as Peyton Place and Valley Of The Dolls. This one is no better. It has lots of gloss and smooth hard edges, and its always a joy to see Joanne Woodward who sinks her teeth into the role of Newman's slutty wife and is the real villain of the piece and looks great in all those fabulous late 50's Travilla's gowns and frocks. Newman basically sleep walks through the film wearing a bad hair piece and looking like he would rather be anywhere but here. The film as an able supporting cast including George Grizzard actually quite convincing playing a heterosexual sex hound, An underused Myrna Loy, the very good Ina Balin, and Ted de Corsia as her father who is cast against the type of character he usually played. Look for a bit by the great silent screen star Mae Marsh as the governess. See it if you must.
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