In leaning backwards not to offend, producer and writer have gone acrobatic.
On the screen is not the unpleasant sex-secret little town against which Grace Metalious set her story. These aren’t the gossiping, spiteful, immoral people she portrayed. There are hints of this in the film, but only hints.
Under Mark Robson’s direction, every one of the performers delivers a topnotch portrayal. Performance of Diane Varsi particularly is standout as the rebellious teenager Allison, eager to learn about life and numbed by the discovery that she is an illegitimate child. Also in top form in a difficult role is Hope Lange, stepdaughter of the school’s drunken caretaker. As Varsi’s mother, Lana Turner looks elegant and registers strongly.
Lee Philips is another new face as Michael Rossi, the school principal who courts the reluctant Turner. Pleasant looking, Philips has a voice that is at times high and nasal. Opposite Varsi, Russ Tamblyn plays Norman Page, the mama’s boy, with much intelligence and appealing simplicity.
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Robson’s direction is unhurried, taking best advantage of the little town of Camden, Me, where most of the film was shot.
1957: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Lana Turner), Supp. Actor (Arthur Kennedy, Russ Tamblyn), Supp. Actress (Hope Lange, Diana Varsi), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography