If You’d Rather Watch ’57 Bestsellers

On the Beach     compulsion.jpg      Peyton Place

I mentioned in an earlier post that Of Love Possessed, the top novel in ’57, was made into a movie. Other top novels of 1957 that got the Hollywood treatment were Peyton Place; Compulsion; Rally Round the Flag, Boys;  and On the Beach. (Look at that. All I have to do is think about Of Love Possessed and I break out in semicolons.) You’ll have no difficulty finding any of them in DVD.

Adapted for the big screen 1957, the Peyton Place film version was almost a flop. It was saved by publicity surrounding the murder trial of the daughter of star Lana Turner for the murder of her mother’s mobster boyfriend. The film is available in VHS and DVD formats. The novel also spawned the  the first prime time TV soap opera. That’s out on DVD, too.

There are two versions of On the Beach. Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner starred in the first film adapation in 1959. It’s available in VHS and DVD formats. A 2000 remake starring Armand Assante was on TV a week or so ago. It is available on DVD. Amazon.com sells the two versions on DVD as a set, for people who want to be really depressed.

A movie version of Compulsion was released in 1959. (It’s available on DVD.) Nathan Leopold (the character on whom Judd Steiner is based) was offended by the film. From prison, he sued author Levin and the film’s producer Richard Zanuck for invasion of privacy. The case dragged on for years. Leopold finally lost: he was declared a public figure not entitled to privacy protection.

Rally Round the Flag, Boys! is available on DVD. It stars Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.


Published by

Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

One thought on “If You’d Rather Watch ’57 Bestsellers”

  1. On The Beach is a pretty tepid film, the kind Stanley Kramer made often: Big on issues, small on ideas. It is entertaining to watch Fred Astaire mangle an Australian accent though. I guess no one had the stomach to tell him he just wasn’t cutting it.

    As for Compulsion it’s no great shakes either but Orson Welles does a terrific job with the final summation in the courtroom. Dean Stockwell overplays his role from beginning to end, reacting in bold blacks and whites with nary a shade of gray to be found.


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