Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE


RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE (1961). Director: Jose Ferrer.

In this sequel to Peyton Place, Allison MacKenzie (now played by Carol Lynley) goes to New York with her roman a clef manuscript about the town she grew up in, and falls for her handsome married publisher (Jeff Chandler). Her mother Constance is now married to Mike Rossi [these two are now played by Eleanor Parker and Robert Sterling of Topper TV series fame], and while mama is appalled, Mike wants to place the book in the school library. Selena (now played by Tuesday Weld) is mortified that Allison chose to write about her rape and subsequent trial in her novel, and Roberta Carter (Mary Astor) is outraged that the principal wants to put his step-daughter's filthy book in the library where anyone could read it. Brett Halsey is Roberta's son Ted, who shows up with a new wife (Luciana Paluzzi, who later did Thunderball) in tow. Meanwhile Selena meets a guy named Nils (Gunnar Hellstrom). [They ignore the fact that Selena and Ted were not just friends but were once engaged]. The acting is good and there are a few surprises. Although few would argue that Eleanor Parker was a more talented actress than Lana Turner [despite the latter's fine stint in A Life of Her Own], Turner was actually more suitable for the role of Constance Mackenzie [and it doesn't help that Parker is doing one of her "actressy" turns]. Brett Halsey comes off better than usual. It's absolutely no surprise, however, that the whole movie is positively stolen by the superb performance of Mary Astor, who gives the entire cast and everyone who sees the film a lesson in sharp and superlative thesping.

Verdict: A pleasant return to old Sin City. ***.

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