(director/writer: Delmer Daves; screenwriter: from the
novel by Mildred Savage; cinematographer: Harry
Stradling Jr.; editor: Owen Marks; music: Max Steiner;
cast: Troy Donahue
(Parrish McLean), Claudette Colbert (Ellen McLean), Karl
Malden (Judd Raike), Dean Jagger (Sala Post), Connie
Stevens (Lucy), Diane McBain (Alison Post), Sharon
Hugueny (Paige Raike), Dub Taylor (Teet Howie), Hampton
Fancher (Edgar Raike), David Knapp (Wiley Raike);
Runtime: 140; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Delmer
Daves; Warner Bros.; 1961)
"This Peyton Place meets Tobacco Road pic might be scenic, but its dialogue is risible and its dreary story line is as noxious as smoking."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
below-average soap opera adapted by
director/writer/producer Delmer Daves ("Destination
Tokyo"/"Pride of the Marines"/"Cowboy") from
the bestselling novel by Mildred Savage. The heavy-handed,
predictable and overlong melodrama is about rival
tobacco farmers in the Connecticut River Valley and a handsome
young newcomer to the area conflicted over romancing
three different women. After absent from movies
the past six years the 58-year-old Claudette Colbert
returns for her last role in films, playing the role
of mother to heart-throb Troy Donahue.
The sentimental melodrama is a load of crap, as Donahue makes for a stiff lead, the usually reliable Karl Malden goes too far over-the-top playing the heavy to be more than one dimensional and the three women of romantic interest to pretty boy Donahue are all uninteresting and forgettable. This Peyton Place meets Tobacco Road pic might be scenic, but its dialogue is risible and its dreary story line is as noxious as smoking.
Twenty-something poor momma's boy hunk
Parrish McLean (Donahue) and his cheerful widow
mother Ellen (Claudette Colbert) leave Boston for
rural Connecticut, where she is hired by the
virtuous widow tobacco farmer Sala Post (Dean
Jagger) to watch over his rebellious and wild living
college student daughter Alison (Diane McBain) while she returns to the quiet farm she
hates for the summer break. Meanwhile Parrish gets
hired to work as a field-hand for Sala, and hooks up
with loose but good-natured field-hand Lucy (Connie Stevens) and also with Sala's attractive but
troubled and slutty daughter Alison.
Even though her boss is being driven out of
business by the monopoly-minded, greedy, uptight,
volatile and ruthless Judd Raike (Karl Malden), a
neighbor tobacco farmer, Ellen marries him (she says
she sees his good side) and gets Parrish to work for
him as his heir apparent. Judd's nitwit sons Edgar (Hampton Fancher) and Wiley (David Knapp) resent Parrish, and do everything they can
to make his life miserable. But their college
student sister Paige (Sharon Hugueny) is as sweet as pie and is chaste and
interested in tobacco farming, and if you can't
guess let me assure you that by the end she will win
the heart of Parrish.
The ethical Parrish quits working for the
unethical Judd and in the climax works for the
ethical Sala, who is at least more ethical than
Judd, to see if he can save his farm from his
arch-rival and his unsavory ways of always trying to
get everything he wants.
It works for those interested in wanting to
know something about cultivating a tobacco crop, but
there are things this tawdry plodding film can't
explain: Troy's nice mother's marriage to a tyrant
like Malden; why pin-up boy in his first leading
role is so dull playing a part James Dean would have
worked wonders with; and why is such an unconvincing
melodrama getting laughs where none were intended.
But don't ask me why, it's watchable.
REVIEWED ON 3/12/2012 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ