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
Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Composed by Robert Schumann
Heard playing on Allison MacKenzie's record player See more »
A soap opera--but a great one!
The book "Peyton Place" came out in the early 1950s. It blew off the lid of a small New England town full of rape, murder, sex, abortion, infidelity, suicide etc etc. Even though the town (and residents) were fictitious, this book created an uproar. It was a huge best seller but condemned as utter trash by all book critics and "moral" people everywhere (of course they were buying the book themselves). Now, almost 50 years later, it's considered a great literary novel and taught in colleges!
Hollywood took the book, toned it down considerably, went all the way to Maine to film it and basically gave it Grade A treatment. It has a great cast, a stunning score by Franz Waxman, gorgeous New England photography and moves along at a fast clip. The once racy stuff is very tame by today's standards but it's kind of amusing to watch--the dialogue scene between Diane Varsi and Russ Tamblyn (about sex) is giggle-inducing. An abortion is never called that--it's called "inducing a miscarriage". A rape becomes "forcing himself on her". Still, the main stories in the book come across...and it works very well. The cast really helps.
Lana Turner is just great as Constance MacKenzie--a woman with a deep secret. Lloyd Nolan is perfect as Doc Swain--he even gets the New England accent down right! Arthur Kennedy is downright terrifying as Lucas Cross and Hope Lange is fantastic as his step-daughter. Everybody else (with one exception) is good but the ones mentioned above were the best. The one debit is Diane Varsi--she's TERRIBLE as Alison MacKenzie. Unfortunately, she's the main character. Her face is always blank and her readings are in a monotone. Especially bad are her narrations over the scenery. You see just jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery---and her drab, toneless voice droning on. Still, everything else is so good she's easy to overlook.
OK--it's a soap opera but a VERY good one. The 2 1/2+ hours just flew by. Highly recommended.
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