Peyton Place (film)

Peyton Place (film)

name = Peyton Place

caption= Original film poster
imdb_id = 0050839
producer = Jerry Wald
director = Mark Robson
writer = John Michael Hayes
Based on the novel by Grace Metalious
starring = Lana Turner
Diane Varsi
Hope Lange
Lee Philips
Arthur Kennedy

music = Franz Waxman
cinematography = William C. Mellor
editing = David Bretherton |
distributor = 20th Century Fox
released = December 13, 1957
runtime = 162 minutes
gross = $25,600,000| language = English

"Peyton Place" is a 1957 American drama film directed by Mark Robson. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes is based on the bestselling 1956 novel of the same name by Grace Metalious.


The film is an exposé of the lives and loves of the residents of a small New England mill town, where scandal, homicide, suicide, incest, and moral hypocrisy hide behind a tranquil façade in the years immediately preceding and following World War II. At the core of its plot are three women. Constance MacKenzie is a prim and proper sexually repressed woman who had an affair with a married New York City businessman and bore him a child out of wedlock. She has struggled to shield her daughter Allison, a high school senior and aspiring author, from her tarnished past, leading her to believe she returned to Peyton Place with her newborn baby after her husband died. Selena Cross, Allison's best friend, is a good girl living on the wrong side of the tracks. She murders her stepfather Lucas after repeated sexual abuse, and her trial is the focus of the latter part of the film.

Other characters include Allison's classmate and confidant Norman Page, a mama's boy anxious to gain his independence; bad girl Betty Anderson, who longs to have a relationship with wealthy Rodney Harrington; and new school principal Michael Rossi, who attempts to crack Constance's icy veneer.


Less than a month after the book's release in 1956, producer Jerry Wald bought the rights from author Grace Metalious for $250,000 and hired her as a story consultant on the film, although he had no intention of actually allowing her to contribute anything to the production. Her presence in Hollywood ensured the project additional publicity, but Metalious soon felt out of place in the film capital. Horrified by the sanitized adaptation of her book by screenwriter John Michael Hayes, who was forced to contend with the Hays Code, and his suggestion Pat Boone be cast as Norman Page, she returned to her home to Gilmanton, New Hampshire. She eventually earned a total of $400,000 in profits from the film, which she hated ["The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties" by Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002, pp. 248-251, ISBN 0-393-04321-5] . The film was shot primarily in Camden, Maine, with additional exteriors filmed in Belfast and Rockland in Maine and Lake Placid in New York. It premiered in Camden two days before going into general release in the US on December 13, 1957.

"Peyton Place" was the second highest grossing film of 1958, although in the first few months of its release it did not do well at the box office, until a real-life tragedy gave it an unexpected boost. On April 4, 1958, star Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl killed her mother's abusive lover, mobster Johnny Stompanato, and was placed in Juvenile Hall. The press coverage of the subsequent investigation boosted ticket sales by 32%, and the film eventually grossed $25,600,000 in the US. A coroner's inquest ruled the murder justifiable homicide, and the district attorney chose not to charge Cheryl with the crime, although he declared her a ward of the state and placed her in the custody of her grandmother. Turner feared the negative publicity would end her career, but it led producer Ross Hunter to cast her in the 1959 film "Imitation of Life" ["The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties", pp. 259-261] .

The film inspired a popular primetime television series that aired from September 1964 until June 1969.

Principal cast

*Lana Turner..... Constance MacKenzie
*Diane Varsi ..... Allison MacKenzie
*Hope Lange ..... Selena Cross
*Lee Philips ..... Michael Rossi
*Arthur Kennedy ..... Lucas Cross
*Lloyd Nolan ..... Dr. Matthew Swain
*Russ Tamblyn ..... Norman Page
*Terry Moore ..... Betty Anderson
*David Nelson ..... Ted Carter
*Barry Coe ..... Rodney Harrington
*Betty Field ..... Nellie Cross
*Mildred Dunnock ..... Miss Elsie Thornton
*Leon Ames ..... Leslie Harrington
*Lorne Greene ..... District Attorney

Critical reception

Most critics made note of the fact the most salacious elements of the Metalious novel had been laundered or eliminated completely. In the "New York Times", Bosley Crowther remarked, "There is no sense of massive corruption here." ["The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties", pg. 253] "Variety" noted, "In leaning backwards not to offend, producer and writer have gone acrobatic. On the screen is not the unpleasant sex-secret little town against which Grace Metalious set her story. These aren't the gossiping, spiteful, immoral people she portrayed. There are hints of this in the film, but only hints." [ [ "Variety" review] ] "TV Guide" said, "This is the kind of hypertensive trash that gives melodrama a bad name, cynically tempering its naughty bits with smug moralizing. The fact that the film won an "A" rating from the Catholic Legion of Decency, meaning it was deemed "acceptable to all," is a dead giveaway." [ [ "TV Guide" review] ]


*Academy Award for Best Picture
*Academy Award for Best Director
*Academy Award for Best Actress (Lana Turner)
*Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Diane Varsi and Hope Lange)
*Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Arthur Kennedy and Russ Tamblyn)
*Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
*Academy Award for Best Cinematography
*Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
*Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Drama
*Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (Hope Lange and Mildred Dunnock)

ee also

*Illegitimacy in fiction


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