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Tired old queen at the movies

review
Peyton Place

"T
he book that could never be filmed!" In 1957, screenwriter John Michael Hayes faced this kind of stigma over the film version of Peyton Place, Grace Metalious's scandalous bestseller about the dirty secrets of small town life in America. Hayes however, beat the odds and turned in an Oscar nominated screenplay that eventually earned the film the reputation of being "The best film ever made from a bad book!"

In the lead role of Constance, the repressed mother, director Mark Robson cast Lana Turner against type and she received her only nomination as Best Actress. For the teenagers, he cast virtual unknowns, Diane Varsi, Hope Lange and Russ Tamblin, all nominated as well, along with screen veterans Terry Moore, Betty Field, Mildred Dunnock and Arthur Kennedy who got an Oscar nod as the town drunk. Nominated as Best Picture and shot on location in Technicolor, with a glorious score by Franz Waxman, Peyton Place proved to be more than just fodder for soap operas. The end result is a valentine to young love, innocence and life before and after World War II.

Steve Hayes

(Syndication is with the kind permission of Steve Hayes.)


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