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Ambitious but thwarted, Rae Smith meets handsome Marine Paul Saxon, (of the Saxon department store chain), as he passes through Lincoln, Nebraska, on his way home from World War II. There's a definite spark between them but circumstances intervene and he leaves town without her. Later she learns he's married. Determined to make it as a fashion designer, Rae moves to New York and becomes a great success. One day she happens to meet Paul again and again there's that spark but he's still married so, as a form of escape, Rae moves to Rome to set up shop. Once again she meets Paul and finally they begin an actual affair since Paul's shrewish, drunken wife, Liz, won't give him a divorce. Time passes, the affair continues whenever time and place permit, but then, Paul's young son finds out about Rae and Rae's back-street world begins to crumble. Written by
dinky-4 of Minneapolis
The world premier was in Hollywood at the Warner Theater (later the Pacific Cinerama Theater) at 6433 Hollywood Blvd. A picture postcard was made showing a photograph of the opening night scene of "Back Street". The image with searchlights, cars, and crowds was depicted as a "typical Hollywood scene". See more »
Do you know the worst part? He was trying to seduce me with champagne - domestic champagne.
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That old romantic chestnut Back Street gets its third filming and a big Ross Hunter type budget with Ross Hunter type gloss. But the story is still the same.
Stepping into the shoes of Irene Dunne and Margaret Sullavan is another one of the greats and a personal favorite of mine. Susan Hayward is perfectly cast as the ultimate 'other' woman.
The original story was written in the twenties and it has been updated to the fifties and given fabulous European locations in Rome and Paris. But the story begins when Susan who is an aspiring clothing designer meets Marine John Gavin who is awaiting his discharge. It's as it always is, the guy's married as she learns on their next meeting.
One thing leads to another and pretty soon Hayward who is by now a very successful dress designer is working out of Paris where Gavin has also relocated. He's the heir to a department store chain and takes his wife and kids over there to oversee European operations.
In order for us to feel sympathy for Hayward and Gavin in their predicament you have to make the wife the world's biggest shrew. That's what Hunter did, but he cast Vera Miles totally against type. Usually Vera was a good girl on screen. But when she turned bad she was something to see. She really steals the film from Hayward not an easy thing to do against an actress who certainly played her share of bad girls. I'm surprised Miles was overlooked at Oscar time for this performance. In fact traditional casting would have had Hayward the drunk and slutty wife and Miles the understanding mistress.
I can only imagine that Rock Hudson had other commitments because the role of the husband is perfect for him. John Gavin however does a very good job in the part.
Look for a nice performance from Reginald Gardiner as the fashion designer who makes Hayward a protégé. Had this been done at 20th Century Fox instead of Universal, the part would have been Clifton Webb's.
This is a nice version of Fannie Hurst's story of a woman who sacrifices her legal happiness for her man. Maybe Back Street is due for another remake. I can see Meryl Streep now as the either the wife or the mistress.
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