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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Return To Peyton Place (1961)

A young girl (Carol Lynley) writes a novel using the unsavory aspects of her small hometown as the source of the material. When the novel is published, the town is outraged and bans the book but the novel also has touches the lives of the people she wrote about and not always in a positive way. After the huge commercial and critical success of the 1957 film of PEYTON PLACE, a sequel (also penned by Grace Metalious) was inevitable. The film makes many changes from the novel and the film's structure seems haphazard and fragmented which might make the film incoherent unless one had seen the original film. For the 1957 film, the director Mark Robson and the screenwriter John Michael Hayes pulled a wizard's trick and turned Metalious' lurid and trashy best seller into an insightful look at the double standards and hypocrisy of a small American town. Here, director Jose Ferrer (yes, the actor) and his screenwriter Ronald Alexander are defeated by the material. With the exception of Mary Astor as the mother in law from Hell who turns in a fierce performance, all the other actors flounder. Even Franz Waxman, whose score for the 1957 original is one of the all time great film scores, provides a tired retread here. With Jeff Chandler, Eleanor Parker, Tuesday Weld, Luciana Paluzzi, Robert Sterling, Brett Halsey and Gunnar Hellstrom.

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