CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Peyton Place (1957) is top notch soap opera melodrama at it's best...

One of the most definitive melodramatic tear jerker movies ever made. Based on the best-selling novel by Grace Metalious about scandalous activity in a small New Hapshire town. There are several inter-related stories that come together in a riveting courtroom climax. One story features Lana Turner as a possessive single mother who tells her naive daughter (played by Diane Varsi) that her father died when she was 2 years old. Which is a lie because the father is already married to another woman. Another plot line has a daughter (Hope Lange) fending off the unwanted sexual advances of her drunken step-father (Arthur Kennedy). And finally the third connecting plot has the town tramp (a sexy Terry Moore) loving the son of the most powerful man in town. These three storylines make up the bulk of the film and what's amazing is how one event will lead into the next.
Peyton Place does start off slow but once the secrets come flying out, who Nellie! As for the performances, Turner may headline this production, but she kind of phones in her performance. Not that's she is bad, but she just seems ordinary. I can't believe this was her only Oscar nominated role.  In my opinion she was far better in that other soap tearjerker, Imitation Of Life. Kennedy is great as the drunken step father. He's hysterically funny one minute, then cruel and vicious the next. Lange is unbelievably powerful as Selena, his step-daughter. She's quiet,composed and acts so good it doesn't seem like she's acting. Varsi is ok as Turner's daughter. It's to her credit that she can say the film's corniest lines with a straight face. Lee Phillips is solid as the town doctor who gives a memorable speech at the film's climax that sums up everything nicely. And Terry Moore is quite fetching as the bad girl who makes good. What's so good about her performance is that she convinces us that she's not really a bad girl, but a girl who knows what she wants.

Hope Lange

Diane Varsi

Terry Moore

Peyton Place is one of the best films of it's kind. Ranks right up there with Imitation of Life and Stella Dallas as supreme tear jerkers. Plus having a cast of beautiful women doesn't hurt the film at all.

1 comment:

Frl. Irene Palfy said...

Oh, Monty: I love PEYTON PLACE - the books as well as the movie.
Have you seen RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE? I have not yet.
I am completely with you on Lana Turner's better performance in IMITATION OF LIFE. I guess it is harder to perfom a character who is so repressed like the one in PEYTON PLACE than that in IMITATION OF LIFE where she can be more emotional.


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