Peyton Place

I dealt with some of the problems that came up on a Monday at work and was glad to return home.  I had my late lunch and sat down to watch “Peyton Place.”  I thought it was quite a trashy movie and was amazed that it got nine Oscar nominations and not surprised that it didn’t win any.  Some of the content of the novel had to be toned down for the movies.  Diane Varsi, who played Allison, seemed to me to be a mixture of Lee Remick, Mariel Hemingway, and Kirsten Dunst.  Lana Turner was the mother.  It seems that in these small-town stories there always has to be some hidden secret about an illegitimate child.  I liked Lana Turner in this movie.  Russ Tamblyn was a shy classmate.  It was hard to believe he was the same actor who would dance around in “West Side Story.”  Hope Lange was Selena, the girl from the poor side of town with the alcoholic, abusive stepfather.  She was Allison’s best friend.  Hope Lange looked so young in this picture.  I wondered what she did during the years between this movie and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  Lorne Greene was the prosecutor.  I kept thinking that this movie could have a cult following like “Valley of the Dolls.”  There were quite a few moments that today’s audiences would laugh at.  Hope had a scene that reminded me of the Ramones song with the lyrics “Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah.”  Lana Turner was an overbearing mother along the lines of Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest.”  Some of the courtroom procedures at the end didn’t seem genuine, and the endless speech that the doctor gave was nauseating.  The story starts off just before the end of the school year in 1941 and goes on for about two years.  Allison did look like a teenager in the beginning and show some change at the end.  She reminded me of the girl in “Little Women” who went to the big city to try to become a writer.  The setting was a New England town that could have been in either New Hampshire or Maine.  Everyone spoke with accents like they were ancestors of the characters in “Manchester by the Sea.”  Two of the characters die, one during the war and the other killed.  Otherwise, other conflicts are resolved, and the ending is supposed to be uplifting.  The picture quality was better than I expected from this DVD.  It was a CinemaScope film, and some of that New England beauty came through, although some of the footage reportedly came from “The Trouble with Harry.”  I can’t say that I was bored with this movie.  It wasn’t one of the masterpieces of cinema, however.  Some of the people who died on April 25 include George Sanders (1972), Carol Reed (1976), Dexter Gordon (1990), Art Fleming (1995), Ginger Rogers (1995), Saul Bass (1996), Boris Pickett (2007), Bea Arthur (2009), and Dorothy Provine (2010).  Today is a birthday for Talia Shire (71) and Al Pacino (77).

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