The residents of Peyton Place, New Hampshire, are not happy when its most famous resident, Alison Mackenzie, writes a "shocking" novel detailing the sinful secrets of the town. Most ... See full summary »
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 »
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
The Granddaddy of all soap operas, Peyton Place has its place in film and television history. When the steamy best seller by Grace Metalious and film by Jerry Wald and 20th Century Fox were converted into a television series, it set a standard for evening prime time soap operas that some will argue has never been equaled.
Times have surely changed. Set in New England as it is if Peyton Place existed it's now in the vanguard of blue state America. But in 1941 Peyton Place in New England would probably have enjoyed keeping cool with native son Calvin Coolidge and no doubt voted for Hoover, Landon, and Wilkie instead of that radical FDR in the White House.
In this prim and proper New England town it's all about keeping up appearances. Everybody knows everyone so if things aren't quite fitting the America of Norman Rockwell you keep them behind closed doors.
Like Lana Turner never bothering to tell daughter Diane Varsi that she's an out of wedlock child, like poor Russ Tamblyn not being able to relate to the opposite sex in his teen years, like Hope Lange living with a brutal rampaging father in Arthur Kennedy who physically abuses her mother Betty Field and does more than that with her.
Leon Ames as the town's employer, owner of the mill where most of the town works maybe the leading citizen, but the town's moral authority is Lloyd Nolan, a very wise and caring doctor, the kind of small town doctor who's a passing memory.
It's impossible to describe the plot of Peyton Place because there are so many strands in the plot fabric. It all works very well courtesy of screenwriter John Michael Hayes and director Mark Robson. The whole thing is narrated by Diane Varsi as Allison McKenzie who grew up and wrote a book about her home town.
Peyton Place got nine Oscar nominations, but unfortunately lost a lot of awards it was up for to The Bridge On The River Kwai. Lana Turner's one and only nomination came in a year that the Academy voters gave the Best Actress Award to relative newcomer Joanne Woodward. Russ Tamblyn and Arthur Kennedy split the vote and Red Buttons won for Sayonara for Best Supporting Actor and the same thing happened with the Best Supporting Actress with Diane Varsi and Hope Lange splitting for Miyoshi Umeki to win for Sayonara as well.
The Code was still firmly in place and had it not been I think Russ Tamblyn's character would have been more explicitly gay. Here he's a timid young man not comfortable with the opposite sex and not real popular among his own heterosexist males. Then as now, gays are not real comfortable in most small towns.
Still for those who like their big screen soap operas, you'll love Peyton Place, even with changing mores the film holds up well.
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