Back Street (1961)

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BACK STREET—-Vera Miles bitches at John Gavin: “You hypocrite! You didn’t come to Europe for me. You came to build more department stores!”  Everyones most pressing concern—the romantic problems of the filthy rich—aired this time on the fringes of the fashion design business.  It’s the third filming of a story about a woman who keeps the fires smoldering for her love object over many years, thanks to the inconvenience of the other party being tied down by marriage.

High gloss production values, courtesy of Ross Hunter, including $112,000 worth of “gowns by Jean Louis “. The swanky duds nabbed an Oscar nomination for Costume Design, something the script didn’t manage. Still, it’s hard to dismiss an exchange like  “A few more drinks and you’ll fall flat on your face”, and its retort: “Let’s find out.”

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Susan Hayward, an old hand at suffering, is the noble homewrecker, the not-too-animate Gavin is the husband, Miles the nasty spouse. Some laffs offered by the pretentious script. Directed by David Miller, with Virginia Grey, Charles Drake, Reginald Gardiner, Tammy Marihugh, Robert Eyer, Natalie Schafer and Hayden Rorke. 107 minutes, advertised thusly: “She shut Her Eyes to Shame…When She Opened Her Heart to Love!”

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Taken from a very popular 1931 novel by the fascinating Fannie Hurst, the previous versions showed up in 1932 (Irene Dunne & John Boles) and 1941 (Margaret Sullivan & Charles Boyer). This outing did a respectable $7,600,000, 29th place in 1961. Hayward also cranked out Ada and The Marriage-Go-Round that year.  Other examples of glossy trash tempting people away from TV in ’61: Parrish, Susan Slade, By Love Possessed, Return To Peyton Place, The Sins Of Rachel Cade, A Fever In The Blood and Sanctuary.

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