Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1957. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Jerry Wald Productions. Screenplay by John Michael Hayes, based on the novel by Grace Metalious. Cinematography by William C. Mellor. Produced by Jerry Wald. Music by Franz Waxman. Production Design by Jack Martin Smith, Lyle R. Wheeler. Costume Design by Adele Palmer. Film Editing by David Bretherton, James B. Clark. Academy Awards 1957. Golden Globe Awards 1957.
The bestselling novel about sex and scandal in small-town America reaches the big screen with surprisingly few compromises. Lana Turner plays a single mother trying to raise her daughter (Diane Varsi) in a perfect, white picket-fence environment but with great difficulty. Imagine her surprise when she interrupts a teenage after-school party where the music has been turned on high and the lights way down low (It might be the earliest American studio film to use the word ‘sex’ and actually be talking about sex). Meanwhile, neighbour Hope Lange is under suspicion of murder for the mysterious death of her abusive stepfather. At first it will seem dated and corny, but get into it enough and you won’t be able to shake it off. The final courtroom sequence is a nailbiter in this milestone melodrama that hasn’t aged a single day.