A fictional exposé about a New England town called Peyton Place, her debut novel enthralled readers with its dark small town secrets. It stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year and attracted the attention of Hollywood. Producer Jerry Wald convinced 20th Century-Fox to pay $100,000 for the film rights to Peyton Place. Wald was known for making films with strong female characters, such as Mildred Pierce, Flamingo Road, Johnny Belinda, and Caged. From the outset, he wanted 37-year-old Lana Turner for the lead role of Constance Mackenzie, a single mother who keeps her distance from men. The studio, however, envisioned Jane Wyman or Olivia de Havilland as Constance. In the end, Wald got his way.
|Lee Phillips as Mike Rossi and Lana.|
|Reliable Lloyd Nolan as Dr. Swain.|
The film received nine Academy Award nominations, including: Best Picture, Best Director (Mark Robson); Best Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Actress (Lana Turner); and four supporting performances (Diane Varsi, Hope Lange, Russ Tamblyn, and Arthur Kennedy). Amazingly, Franz Waxman's lovely, bittersweet score was totally ignored. He likely fared better from a commercial standpoint, especially after his title theme was heard two to three times weekly when the Peyton Place TV series aired from 1964 to 1969.
|Hope Lange as Selena.|
|Diane Varsi as Allison.|
|Allison shows her "secret place" to Norman.|
Why all the interest in this small New England town? Perhaps, Constance sums it up best when talking to Mike Rossi in the first film: "In Peyton Place, two people talking is a conspiracy. A meeting is an assignation. And getting to know one another is a scandal."