Peyton Place (1957)

MARK ROBSON

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA, 1957, .  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  Academy Awards 1957.  Golden Globe Awards 1957.  

Lana Turner and Diane Varsi in Peyton Place. Both were Oscar-nominated for their performances.

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.

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