Peyton Place (1957)

September 2018

peyton place movie poster

Grace Metalious’ once-notorious bestseller Peyton Place is given a lavish—and necessarily toned-down—film treatment in this deluxe 20th Century-Fox production. Set during WWII, the film concentrates on several denizens of the outwardly respectable New England community of Peyton Place.—Rotten Tomatoes

This movie is worth watching just for the cinematography and musical score alone. William C. Mellor’s opening sequence paints a picture of New England as a dreamy, wistful and idyllic wonderland (filmed on location in Camden, Maine). Franz Waxman’s children say this score was his favorite and clearly his best work. It is hauntingly beautiful. Hope Lange, Diane Varsi, Arthur Kennedy, Russ Tamblyn, Betty Field and Lana Turner all turn in excellent performances.—Michael L., TCM User Reviews

September begins a series of movies under the theme of “Changing Times.” Likely no one in 2018 will refute that social mores are very different from what is depicted in Peyton Place (Robson, 1957), a time that many adults experienced first-hand. If you are among this group, thinking about your own life at the time, do you wonder about the life of Grace Metalious, as she sat in her home writing her now-famous book (Metalious, 1956)? Lucy and Mary have co-written an article with background material on that very topic.

It may be helpful to re-visit or to vicariously experience those days through our films to appreciate by comparison the complex lives we lead in the present. No matter how you experience this earlier time, or our current political and social climate, it benefits us to consider how very far we have progressed as a society in our greater transparency and more tolerant attitudes toward others.

In the 1950s, people were taught to keep their “dirty linens” behind closed doors, but Metalious’ book opened them wide to show human failings of all. Maybe some would argue that we would benefit by closing those doors back a little. However, in my opinion, even though human beings will always struggle to lift ourselves to higher standards of behavior, we have much to be thankful for in our ability to openly discuss difficult issues of our lives today.

REFERENCES

Metalious, G. (1956). Peyton Place. New York, NY: Julian Messner, Inc.

Michael L. (2012, Oct 15). Peyton Place (1957) user reviews. Retrieved from http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/86570/Peyton-Place/user-reviews.html

Robson, M. [Director] (1957). Peyton Place [Motion Picture]. USA: 20th Century Fox.

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