Peyton Place (1957)

157 mins | Melodrama | December 1957

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HISTORY

The film's title card reads "Jerry Wald's Production of Peyton Place ." According to the preview reviews, the film originally ran 166 minutes. The picture begins with a voice-over narration spoken by "Allison MacKenzie" explaining that in Peyton Place, time is told by the seasons. Allison then briefly describes her life in New York. According to a Sep 1956 DV news item, Twentieth Century-Fox bought Grace Metalious' novel for $100,000. The novel, which had been an enormous best-seller, had been deemed by many of the studios as too sensationalistic to film, according to a 23 Dec 1957 Newsweek article.
       John Michael Hayes's screenplay toned down the novel's more lurid elements. In Metalious' book, "Selena" was raped several times by her stepfather. Rather than suffering a miscarriage, as in the film, Selena has an abortion in the novel. In Metalious' version, "Constance" has a torrid affair with "Michael" and "Allison" loses her virginity in New York with her literary agent. Instead of marrying "Rodney Harrington" as she does in the film, "Betty" is bought off and sent away by his father. In the film, the evil figure of "Lucas Cross," Selena's stepfather, is actually a composite of the stepfather and the school janitor from the novel. An examination of the MPAA/PCA file on the film contained in the AMPAS Library reveals that the PCA had few criticisms of the screenplay. In letters to the studio, the PCA advised that the use of the word "abortion" be forbidden, and instructed the studio to tone down the brutality in the scene in which Selena clubs her stepfather to death. The studio ... More Less

The film's title card reads "Jerry Wald's Production of Peyton Place ." According to the preview reviews, the film originally ran 166 minutes. The picture begins with a voice-over narration spoken by "Allison MacKenzie" explaining that in Peyton Place, time is told by the seasons. Allison then briefly describes her life in New York. According to a Sep 1956 DV news item, Twentieth Century-Fox bought Grace Metalious' novel for $100,000. The novel, which had been an enormous best-seller, had been deemed by many of the studios as too sensationalistic to film, according to a 23 Dec 1957 Newsweek article.
       John Michael Hayes's screenplay toned down the novel's more lurid elements. In Metalious' book, "Selena" was raped several times by her stepfather. Rather than suffering a miscarriage, as in the film, Selena has an abortion in the novel. In Metalious' version, "Constance" has a torrid affair with "Michael" and "Allison" loses her virginity in New York with her literary agent. Instead of marrying "Rodney Harrington" as she does in the film, "Betty" is bought off and sent away by his father. In the film, the evil figure of "Lucas Cross," Selena's stepfather, is actually a composite of the stepfather and the school janitor from the novel. An examination of the MPAA/PCA file on the film contained in the AMPAS Library reveals that the PCA had few criticisms of the screenplay. In letters to the studio, the PCA advised that the use of the word "abortion" be forbidden, and instructed the studio to tone down the brutality in the scene in which Selena clubs her stepfather to death. The studio was also cautioned to temper the rape scene.
       HR news items yield the following information about this production: In Apr 1957, Pat Hingle was signed to the cast and Edward Byrnes auditioned for one of the male leads. A Nov 1956 item announced that Joan Crawford was interested in playing the role of Constance. None of these actors appeared in the released film, however. According to studio publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, location filming took place in Camden, Belfast, Rockland and Tomaston, ME. The film marked the feature debuts of Diane Varsi and Broadway actor Lee Philips. Fred Perkins, the continuity director at a local Maine radio station, served as dialectician on the film, according to a Jun 1957 HR news item. Peyton Place marked the first solo appearance of David Nelson, who previously had only appeared in films and on television with his family. For information about the Nelson family, which included father Ozzie, mother Harriet and brother Ricky, please see entry for the 1951 Universal film Here Come the Nelsons (above).
       The picture was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Picture. Lana Turner was nominated as Best Actress; Arthur Kennedy and Russ Tamblyn for Best Supporting Actor; and Hope Lange and Diane Varsi for Best Supporting Actress. In 1961, Twentieth Century-Fox released a sequel titled Return to Peyton Place , directed by José Ferrer and starring Carol Lynley, Jeff Chandler and Eleanor Parker (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). Between 1964 and 1969 ABC broadcast Peyton Place , a television series based on Metalious' novel starring Ryan O'Neal and Mia Farrow. From 1972-74, NBC broadcast Return to Peyton Place , a daytime serial starring Pat Morrow and Evelyn Scott. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Mar 58
p. 167.
Box Office
14 Dec 1957.
---
Box Office
21 Dec 1957.
---
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1956.
---
Daily Variety
13 Dec 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Dec 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 56
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 57
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 57
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 57
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 57
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 57
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Dec 57
p. 641.
New York Times
13 Dec 57
p. 35.
Newsweek
23 Dec 1957.
---
Variety
18 Dec 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Exec ward des
Cost des
Women's cost
Men's cost
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup
Hair styles
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Dialectician
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Peyton Place by Grace Metalious (New York, 1956).
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1957
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 12 December 1957
Production Date:
late April--late August 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Jerry Wald Productions, Inc. & Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
12 December 1957
Copyright Number:
LP10703
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
157
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18628
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As stranger Michael Rossi drives into the small New England town of Peyton Place in search of employment, he passes a broken-down shack owned by Lucas Cross, a bitter, self-pitying drunk. Lucas' world-weary wife Nellie works as a housekeeper for Constance MacKenzie, the young widow who owns the local dress shop. After a contentious interview, the highly idealistic Michael is hired by Leslie Harrington, the owner of the mill and president of the school board, as the new high school principal. At the end of the school day, Connie's studious daughter Allison, an aspiring writer, meets her best friend, Selena Cross, Nellie's daughter, at Connie's dress shop. When the aloof, proper Connie objects to Allison inviting teenage sexpot Betty Anderson to her upcoming birthday party, Allison bristles. Later, at the party, Betty arrives with Rodney Harrington, her childhood sweetheart and heir to the Harrington fortune. Also attending the party is Selena, her fiancé, Ted Carter, who dreams of becoming a lawyer one day, and Norman Page, a sensitive youth who is dominated by his overbearing, possessive mother. After the roguish Rodney insists on turning out all the lights, Connie returns home and angrily ends the party, thus humiliating Allison. That Sunday after church, Michael visits the MacKenzie house to announce that Allison has been named valedictorian of the senior class. While there, Michael invites Connie, who had previously rebuffed him, to chaperone Allison's graduation dance. Soon after, Harrington calls Rodney into his office and offers him a new car if he will break his date with Betty, whom he calls the "local tramp," and take Allison to the dance ... +


As stranger Michael Rossi drives into the small New England town of Peyton Place in search of employment, he passes a broken-down shack owned by Lucas Cross, a bitter, self-pitying drunk. Lucas' world-weary wife Nellie works as a housekeeper for Constance MacKenzie, the young widow who owns the local dress shop. After a contentious interview, the highly idealistic Michael is hired by Leslie Harrington, the owner of the mill and president of the school board, as the new high school principal. At the end of the school day, Connie's studious daughter Allison, an aspiring writer, meets her best friend, Selena Cross, Nellie's daughter, at Connie's dress shop. When the aloof, proper Connie objects to Allison inviting teenage sexpot Betty Anderson to her upcoming birthday party, Allison bristles. Later, at the party, Betty arrives with Rodney Harrington, her childhood sweetheart and heir to the Harrington fortune. Also attending the party is Selena, her fiancé, Ted Carter, who dreams of becoming a lawyer one day, and Norman Page, a sensitive youth who is dominated by his overbearing, possessive mother. After the roguish Rodney insists on turning out all the lights, Connie returns home and angrily ends the party, thus humiliating Allison. That Sunday after church, Michael visits the MacKenzie house to announce that Allison has been named valedictorian of the senior class. While there, Michael invites Connie, who had previously rebuffed him, to chaperone Allison's graduation dance. Soon after, Harrington calls Rodney into his office and offers him a new car if he will break his date with Betty, whom he calls the "local tramp," and take Allison to the dance instead. At the dance, Betty, peeved at Rodney for breaking their date, flirts with him and then slugs him with her purse. After the dance ends, Michael, alone with Connie, kisses her, but she again rejects him. Ted escorts Selena home, and after he leaves, the lecherous, drunken Lucas rapes her. Following graduation, Selena discovers that she is pregnant and turns to Dr. Mathew Swain, the kindly town physician, for an abortion. After Selena confides that Lucas raped her, the outraged Swain threatens him with jail, then forces him to sign a confession and orders him to leave town. When Selena returns home later that night, Lucas drunkenly chases her through the woods in revenge. After losing Lucas, Selena trips and falls down a hill, causing her to miscarry. To protect Selena's reputation, Doc Swain performs an appendectomy on her. At the Labor Day picnic, Betty and Rodney go swimming in the nude, and then Betty dares Rodney to defy his father and marry her. Norman and Allison also go for a swim in the lake, and when the town busybody spots two young people swimming naked, she assumes that they are Norman and Allison and spreads rumors about them. Michael, meanwhile, has invited Connie for a drive in the country, but when Michael tries to kiss her at evening's end, Connie lashes out that men are only interested in sex. Later Connie hears the rumors about Allison, and refuses to believe her daughter's denials. In a moment of anger, Connie coldly reveals that Allison was illegitimate. Stunned, Allison runs upstairs and discovers that Nellie, unable to deal with Selena's rape, has hanged herself. Soon after, Rodney informs his father that he and Betty are married. Harrington wants the marriage annulled, but Rodney assures his father that he has always loved Betty and has decided to quit college in order to take a job in the mill and support his wife. No longer able to tolerate life in Peyton Place, Allison boards a bus bound for New York. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the boys of Peyton Place go off to war, and Rodney asks his father to take care of Betty. Later, when word comes that Rodney was killed in combat, Harrington reconciles with Betty and welcomes her to the family. At Christmastime, Connie visits Michael to apologize for her abrasive behavior. After she confesses that she was a married man's mistress, Michael embraces her and promises to care for her always. On Christmas Eve, Selena is shocked when Lucas appears in a Navy uniform and assaults her. In a fit of rage, Selena clubs him to death and buries his body in the back yard. At Easter, several naval M.P.'s come looking for the AWOL Lucas. After they leave, Selena breaks down and confesses to Connie, who then notifies the state police. When Selena is charged with murder, Allison returns to Peyton Place to offer her best friend support. On the train home, Allison meets a newly confident Norman, now a sergeant in the military. Fearful of disgracing Ted, Selena begs Doc Swain not to divulge the rape and he reluctantly accedes to her wishes. When the prosecutor accuses Selena of premeditated murder, however, Swain presents Lucas' confession as evidence of self-defense. After Selena is acquitted, Allison, who has shunned her mother throughout the trial, runs after Connie and Michael. At the doorstep of the MacKenzie house, mother and daughter embrace and Michael ushers Connie, Allison and Norman home. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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