Arthur Penn’s 1966 film about a convict who’s escaped and is returning to his home town; the town goes off the deep end about it, though it’s a little unclear why anybody cares as much as they do. It starts off well enough, but ends up being so over the top, it becomes a real hoot. It’s basically a hate valentine aimed at right wing conservatives (the theme seems to be that Peyton Place was an absolutely edenic place to live in) and since everyone involved in making the film is so intent on hate mongering the hate mongerers, there’s no place for the story to go. The most interesting aspect is the cast; it’s made up of old time Hollywood studio stalwarts (Grady Sutton, Henry Hull and a remarkable Miriam Hopkins) and a slew of rising young turks (Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, James Fox, Paul Williams, Robert Duvall) and between them strides Marlon Brando like a colossus. Lillian Hellman wrote the script (though I believe she disliked the result) and it’s based on a play and book by Horton Foote (though I swear the final product doesn’t bear that much resemblance to the source).

So tell me what you think.

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