"From the Terrace" was part of a 1-2 John O'Hara assault in 1960, with MGM's "Butterfield 8" duking it out against Fox's own lush CinemaScope production. Like MGM, Fox went for a top screenwriter ("Butterfield 8" being adapted by the once-prolific John Michael Hayes), and Ernest Lehman's decision to abandon the novel's lengthy childhood opening and begin the story as Paul Newman returns home, gave the film an appropriate balance between epic family saga, and intimate character growth.
It's still a glossy soap opera in every corner, but "From the Terrace" offers a great cast of supporting actors, including then-relative newcomers Barbara Eden, Patrick O'Neal, and Howard Caine. Produced and directed by veteran Mark Robson - helmer of the sudsy "Peyton Place," and historical romancer "Inn of the Sixth Happiness" - the film has some luxurious widescreen cinematography by Leo Tover, with rather powerful usage of close ups. A lengthy extreme close-up of Paul Newman early on the film no doubt made his female followers turn to mush, with the actor's sharp blue eyes luring aluminum-hairdo'd Joanne Woodward from fiancé Patrick O'Neal. The low-light, dreamy shadowplay as Newman and Ina Balin meet in a hotel room remains pretty erotic.
Like other 'Scope entries, Fox has done a nice job in transferring a beautiful print to DVD, along with a good stereo mix, with Elmer Bernstein's expressive score adding to the film's high emotional pitch.
The DVD includes the original theatrical trailer (presenting The Men, The Women, and The Things "That Are Creating A World Of Excitement!"), and a brief Movietone newsreel; the latter showcases starlet Ina Balin at the film's premiere, and makes up for the near-absence of her name in the ad campaign, which otherwise focused on real-life couple Newman and Woodward. Among the other stars appearing in the short montage are Peter Falk (then starring in "Murder, Inc."), and David (Al) Hedison (fresh from the Irwin Allen B-movie "The Lost World").
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan
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