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In Lincoln, the ambitious aspirant-designer Rae Smith has an incident with a wolf department store businessman and is rescued by the Marine Paul Saxon. They immediately fall in love with ...
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In Lincoln, the ambitious aspirant-designer Rae Smith has an incident with a wolf department store businessman and is rescued by the Marine Paul Saxon. They immediately fall in love with each other and spend the night together. On the next morning, Paul needs to return to Chicago and calls Rae to go with him. However she misses the plane and Paul travels alone. Soon she learns that he is married with children and she is convinced by her sister to move to New York where she succeeds in the fashion world. Paul, who owns a department store chain, stumbles upon her on the street and their love is rekindled. However, Rae decides to leave New York and her boss and partner convinces her to open a store in Rome. Some time later, they meet each other again and Rae learn that Paul is indeed unhappily married with the alcoholic Liz Saxon. They have a love affair and Paul buys a country house at the countryside of France where they spend their leisure time together. But their lives shatter when ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
After Rae's confrontation with Paul's son, she drives out to the country house and turns off the paved road onto a dirt road. But, in the next shot, the rear-screen projection still shows the paved road. See more »
"You know the worst part? He tried to seduce me with domestic champagne!"
Even in 1961, this had to be taken as a parody of the plush, woman's picture genre. The story had already been filmed in 1932 and 1941, and was creaky by any standard. All the deluxe Ross Hunter trappings (gowns by Jean Louis, jewels by Alexandre) are even more inflated here, with Hayward's gowns designed to match the drapes in the background. The overblown extravagance of the whole production makes Hunter's epics with Lana Turner look like second-string, double feature fare. Oscar-winner Hayward began her descent into strictly camp territory with this warhorse of a soaper; 1963's "Stolen Hours" (a remake of the Bette Davis classic, "Dark Victory") and 1964's "Where Love Has Gone" (co-starring Davis!) continued the trend, until it culminated in Hayward's (indeed, the world's) pinnacle of trash, "Valley of the Dolls" (1967). But back to "Back Street." The well-worn story concerns Hayward, an impossibly chic fashion designer, who is in love with the impossibly handsome (and improbably wooden) John Gavin, a married department store heir. Gavin's wife happens to be rip-roaring alcoholic Vera Miles, who is prone to falling down drunk at parties and threatening suicide. Hayward is nobly self-sacrificing, content to be the "back street" woman for the sake of Gavin's children (who are played by utterly resistible tots). That is, until Miles becomes one of Hayward's couture clients! This is the kind of loopy film where Hayward goes from being a scrappy little dressmaker to world famous couturier in, oh, ten minutes; where elaborate scenes are set up solely to showcase Jean Louis' scrumptious creations (they have no plot bearing whatsoever); and where John Gavin is somehow allowed to play his Really! Big! Scene! as if he's had a full frontal lobotomy (of course, he's so damned gorgeous, you really don't care). Oddly enough, Miles walks off with the film--her teeth are so firmly set into the scenery, you couldn't remove her if you tried, unless you wanted to pull back a bloody stump. (Lana Turner would never have let a supporting player upstage her show!) Hayward clearly took note to never let that happen again, and would give nothing but nostril-flaring, eye-bugging performances for the balance of her career. Look also for Natalie "Lovey Howell" Moorehead in a small but hilarious role as one of Hayward's gossipy clients. As swoony as all this is, "Back Street" is perfect lowbrow entertainment with highbrow trappings, and a sad reminder that, once upon a time, Hollywood DID make stuff like this--when even "bad" movies at least had a healthy shot of glamour to make them enjoyable.
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