Tawdry potboiler based on one of the best-selling novels of all time. Not to be confused with the suggestive, subversive melodramas of Sirk and Minnelli, this is the kind of hypertensive trash that gives melodrama a bad name, cynically tempering its naughty bits with smug moralizing. The
fact that the film won an "A" rating from the Catholic Legion of Decency, meaning it was deemed "acceptable to all," is a dead giveaway.
Into the small New England community of Peyton Place comes a new school principal (Philips), a hotshot Ph.D with "advanced" educational ideas. In no time at all, he meets Turner, a widow with a teenage daughter, Varsi. He's surprised when Turner spurns his amorous advances and he retaliates by
sniping at her for the way she treats Varsi when the teen's birthday party turns into a petting fest. Wealthy Coe marries Moore, a sensuous young woman, despite his father's annoyance. Meanwhile, Varsi is having a sincere friendship with Tamblyn, whose mother, Erin O'Brien-Moore, is a domineering
woman who resents his friendship with anyone. At the same time, Lange, the stepdaughter of the school's drunken caretaker, Kennedy, is raped by Kennedy, and she later kills him (accidentally, of course). The war begins, and the town's respectable veneer falls to pieces.
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