Sunday, April 10, 2011

PARRISH (1961)

Another Troy Donahue/Connie Stevens movie from the Warner Bros. Romance Collection. This one is a family saga with Donahue as the title character, a teenager who moves with his mother (Claudette Colbert) to Connecticut tobacco country so she can take a job as a companion to the daughter of tobacco farmer Dean Jagger. Jagger doesn't trust the good-looking lad around his spoiled girl (Diane McBain), so Donahue finds work in the fields and lodgings with the family of fellow worker Connie Stevens. He and Stevens begin dating, though she continues seeing her steady boyfriend, but soon Donahue is also "dating" McBain. Colbert falls for and marries Karl Malden, a big shot tobacco farmer and something of a rival of Jagger's. Stevens gets pregnant by one of Malden's married sons (Hampton Fancher, pictured), McBain marries another of Malden's sons, and Donahue, after a stint in the Navy, returns to Connecticut and works for Jagger, helping to fight the unscrupulous Malden in his attempt to snatch up all the farming land, with poor Colbert torn between the two. The plot keeps bouncing back and forth between the sex and tobacco plotlines, and there seems to be plenty of material there for a TV series. Donahue, though undeniably handsome, looks puffy and soft and not at all the kind of guy who has the backbone to stand up to everyone around him, though I will say his best scene is a verbal confrontation with Fancher over Stevens' honor. Colbert's heart isn't in this, her final film role (though she appeared in a TV-movie 25 years later); though most of the young men and women playing family members of the warring clans are OK, the best acting is done by Dean Jagger. If you enjoy the glossy, well-produced soap operas of this era, you'll like this, though I think it would have been better with someone other than Donahue as the focus of the story. [DVD]

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