Peyton Place (1957) Movie Review Movie Review

Peyton Place (1957)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Lana Turner in Peyton Place (1957)

Scandal in Peyton Place

The small town of Peyton Place is full of respectable citizens such as Mr. Harrington (Leon Ames - By the Light of the Silvery Moon) who runs the mill and expects his son, Rodney (Barry Coe), to live up to his high standards, which means no dating Betty Anderson (Terry Moore - Daddy Long Legs) as she has a reputation. Constance MacKenzie (Lana Turner - The Bad and the Beautiful) also has high standards which she expects her daughter, Allison (Diane Varsi), to follow leading to plenty of conflict between them, especially when the local gossip says she saw Allison with Norman Page (Russ Tamblyn - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) skinny dipping in the lake. But not only does Constance find herself dealing with romantic conflict herself when new school principal Michael Rossi (Lee Philips) take a shine to her but the murder of a man who was known to be a drunk causes issue for the respectable locals who hate scandal.

That synopsis covers just a fraction of what goes on in "Peyton Place" as this is very much a soap opera where the movie is made up of a collection of dramas and characters which actually covers a few seasons and years. Now I could divulge some of the other dramas which make this movie but that would spoil it as although as I write this "Peyton Place" is 60 years old some of those dramas are shocking whilst others are touching and some are even a little surprising. But you do need to be a fan of the sort of melodrama and twists you find in soap operas to enjoy "Peyton Place" and its storyline. And if you are then the depth of the older characters and their moral high ground comes in to play, especially with a spellbinding courtroom speech towards the end.

Russ Tamblyn and Diane Varsi in Peyton Place (1957)

But what "Peyton Place" has is the style of the 1950s, a bit like a Douglas Sirk movie but without the high definition styling which Sirk was known for. And to go with that dramatic, classy styling you also have that sort of acting which let me say now is a bit hit n miss. On one hand you have Lana Turner, Arthur Kennedy, Terry More and Russ Tamblyn who all deliver their characters with belief and make the drama come to life, yes it is full of melodramatic reactions but it works. But then sadly the likes of Lee Philips and Diane Varsi struggle to deliver the same level of drama often seeming to struggle with their dialogue.

What this all boils down to is that "Peyton Place" is quite an impressive movie with a good look, good characters and a storyline which grows and goes from one thing to another quite nicely. But some of the acting ends up a bit hit n miss which lets it down in parts.