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Peyton Place

Peyton Place(1957)

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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 September 1956 Daily Variety 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 December 23, 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.
       Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about this production: In April 1957, Pat Hingle was signed to the cast and Edward Byrnes auditioned for one of the male leads. A November 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 June 1957 Hollywood Reporter 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 Jos 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.