Cast & Crew
In the town of Libertyville, sixteen-year-old Melinda Grant is ostracized by her schoolmates for being illegitimate, although her seamstress mother Elizabeth maintains that Melinda's father died when she was a baby. Melinda adores her timid mother regardless of the fact that she is overprotective, sews Melinda childish clothes and willfully fails to acknowledge her friendless state. One day, Melinda's teacher, Miss Robson, visits Elizabeth to urge her to allow Melinda to try out for the class play, Our Town . Elizabeth insists that she has never dissuaded Melinda from participating in the drama club but, after Miss Robson leaves, can barely disguise her discomfort at the idea. After Elizabeth performs her daily ritual of checking the empty mailbox for a letter, Melinda asks for permission to attend the school dance, and Elizabeth consents. At the dance, popular couple Bruce Mitchell and Polly Fisher snub Melinda and a new student, Will Henderson, who turns his attentions to a flustered Melinda. The outspoken Will points out that they are both different from the other teenagers, and although Melinda protests this, she agrees to walk with him outside. There, Will, whose salesman father Ed has moved the family to seventeen towns in as many years, declares his desire to settle down in one place, while Melinda wishes she could see the world. She informs him that her father is dead, but upon learning that Ed grew up in Libertyville, grows distressed at the realization that he will soon hear rumors about her parentage. When Will then tries to lead Melinda to the deserted bandstand in the hills, she resists because Elizabeth has warned her never to go there. As Will drives Melinda home, Bruce and his friends attempt to drive them off the road. After taunting them, Bruce finally drives away, and Melinda thanks Will but will not allow him to walk her into her house. Meanwhile, Ed visits Polly's father Alex, his high school friend, and urges Alex to introduce him to his friends at the country club in order to help Ed acquire new clients. Alex, who has grown rich and pompous since Ed left town, responds tepidly. On the way out, Ed runs into Alex's wife Laura, who is drunk and belligerent. At home, Ed, humiliated by the experience and aware that this job represents his last chance with the sales company, protests his wife Dorothy's insistence that he reach beyond his abilities. In response, Dorothy compares Ed unfavorably to her father, a famous author, and when Will comes home, exhorts him never to settle for less than the best. Will mentions Melinda, prompting his parents to instruct him not to consort with a girl on the "wrong side of the tracks." Instead, Ed urges Will to befriend Bruce, Polly and other schoolmates with wealthy parents, in order to create more business contacts for Ed. At school the next day, the class elects Polly and Bruce to try out for the lead roles in Our Town , but despite the efforts of Will and Miss Robson, Melinda refuses to audition. Will and Melinda then share lunch, but after Will gently asks if Elizabeth is mentally unstable, Melinda attacks him. Their grappling develops into an embrace, from which Melinda eventually wrenches herself away. Later, Will is pleased to see Melinda at the play audition, where she easily bests Polly and impresses Bruce with her passionate acting. Polly and Bruce immediately befriend Melinda, causing Will to retreat alone to a nearby café, where he rejects a waitress' flirtation. That night, Elizabeth searches Melinda's room and, upon discovering the text of the play, copies the photo inside to create a costume. Melinda is pleased at her mother's enthusiasm, but wonders why she once again checks the empty mailbox. Just then, Will visits and apologizes, in front of Elizabeth, for trying to kiss Melinda. Elizabeth is pleasant to Will but then later breaks down, raging at Melinda about the dangers of boys. Meanwhile, Will confronts his father about his disapproval of Elizabeth, and Ed responds by asking why Will has not invited him to parents' night at school. After Will admits that he is ashamed of Ed's assertive salesmanship, Ed once again urges Dorothy to be more realistic about her goals for the family. The afternoon of parents' night, Polly invites Melinda to her house and there reveals that she has befriended Melinda only in order to convince her to quit the play, so Polly can be take the lead role. As Melinda is explaining that the role is too important to her to give up, the girls hear Alex begging Laura to accompany him to parents' night. Laura replies bitterly that he wants her there only for the sake of appearances. After Laura calls Alex "a pig," Polly collapses in tears. Later, Will helps Melinda practice her lines by the bandstand, and urges her to try on her costume, a wedding dress. Finding himself sexually attracted to her, he directs her to change again, and this time Polly, hiding nearby, sees Melinda undressing. As parents' night begins, Elizabeth reluctantly attends, urged by Melinda and Miss Robson. Polly insists that Melinda join her in the locker room, where she blackmails Melinda to give up the role in return for Polly keeping quiet about what she saw by the bandstand. Melinda protests that she is innocent, after which Will, who has been listening, shakes Polly, prompting her to race out and announce to the crowd that Will and Melinda are lovers. Bruce fights Will, who barely manages to prevail over the bigger boy. The parents gather in horror, and Ed, seeing Will about to follow Melinda, asks him what to say to the other parents. After Will exhorts him to "tell them you're my father," a shamed Ed finds the courage to challenge Alex and Mr. Mitchell when they threaten to have Will arrested, announcing that his family is leaving Libertyville before it can corrupt them. In the car, Dorothy quietly suggests that Ed accept a managerial job in Toledo, and Ed gratefully kisses her hand. Meanwhile, Will chases Melinda to the bandstand, and there explains that their love purifies their attraction to each other, then kisses her. Elizabeth, who has also followed Melinda, cries out when she sees them and falls to the ground. Melinda guesses aloud that the letter Elizabeth awaits is from her father, who is really alive, and Elizabeth finally recounts meeting him years earlier at the bandstand where he promised to marry her. After he abandoned her before they could marry, however, Elizabeth was humiliated and grew fearful of the public censure. She now voices her dread that the same thing will happen to Melinda, but Will assures her that he will return for Melinda, whom he truly loves. Months later, the mailman is surprised when Elizabeth fails to ask him for a letter, merely smiling when Melinda receives one from Will.
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
The Restless Years
The Restless Years is a soap opera in the vein of Peyton Place where everyone has a secret and nearly everyone is scheming and backstabbing, whether for financial dominance, upward mobility, or as little as the lead in a high school play. There are plenty of sexual undertones, with Melinda avoiding seduction, being given ominous warning by her mother, then falsely accused of being Will's lover, and finally, learning the truth about her father. Under the working titles The Wonderful Years and Bandstand, The Restless Years was produced by Ross Hunter, who was responsible for Sandra Dee's film career. He had signed the former child model to a personal contract for The Restless Years but loaned her out to MGM for two films because Universal didn't think she was ready for them. Instead of telling Dee and undermining her confidence, he let her believe that she was signed to the studio, which was more glamorous and important than being under contract to a producer. Once she had made her mark at MGM, she was officially signed and became one of the last contract players at Universal. Now ready to go with The Restless Years, Hunter chose Helmut Kautner to direct from a screenplay by Edward Anhalt. It was a quick shoot at the studio, with production lasting only from late August to late September 1957.
Released over a year later, in December 1958, The Restless Years did solid business at the box office and earned good reviews by critics and industry publications like Motion Picture Daily who praised "seasoned performers" like Wright, Whitmore and Lindsay as well as "bright newcomers as John Saxon, Sandra Dee, Luana Patten, and Jody McCrea." Teresa Wright was given a special award in New York by The General Federation of Women's Clubs of America for her performance in the film, and Sandra Dee would go on to make several more films through the 1950s and 1960s.
By Lorraine LoBianco
"Award for Miss Wright" Motion Picture Daily Dec 58
Berns, Samuel "The Restless Years: Universal - CinemaScope" Motion Picture 22 Oct 58
Kashner, Sam and MacNair, Jennifer The Bad & the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties
Staggs, Sam Born to Be Hurt: The Untold Story of Imitation of Life
The Restless Years
Teresa Wright (1918-2005)
She was born Muriel Teresa Wright in New York City on October 27, 1918. She showed a keen interest in acting in grade school, and by the time she was 19, she made her Broadway debut in Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938); the following year she scored a hit as Mary, the weeping ingénue in Life with Father (1939). The word was out that New York had a superb young acting talent on hand, and Samuel Goldwyn soon brought her to Hollywood for William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941). She scored an Oscar® nomination for her film debut as Regina Giddens' (Bette Davis), honorable daughter, Alexandria.
She maintained her amazing momentum by scoring two Oscar® nominations the following year for her next two films: as Carol Miniver in Wyler's Mrs. Miniver (Best Supporting Actress Category), and as Lou Gehrig's (Gary Cooper) faithful wife Ellie in Pride of the Yankees (Best Actress Category), and won the Oscar for Miniver. Yet for most fans of Wright's work, her finest hour remains her perfectly modulated performance as young Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright's performance as the self-effacing, impressionable young niece who gradually realizes that her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotton) may have murdered several widows is effective since Wright's air of observation, subtly turns from idol gazing, to a watchful air of caution as the facts slowly being to unravel. 60 years on, fans of Hitchcock still acclaim Wright's performance as an integral part of the film's classic status.
She proved her talents in comedy with the delightful Casanova Brown (1944), but then saw her schedule slow down due to domesticity. After she married screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, she gave birth to son, Niven Jr., in 1944, and took two years off to look after her family. She soon returned to film with another Wyler project, the Oscar®-winning, post war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing Fredric March's level-headed daughter, Peggy, she again took some time off after giving birth to her daughter, Mary in 1947. On her second attempt to return to the big screen, Wright found her popularity on the wane. Her wholesome image was in sharp contrast of the tougher, more modern women in post-war Hollywood, and her stubborn refusal to pose for any swimsuit or cheesecake photos to alter her image led to her release from Sam Goldwyn's contract.
As a freelance actress, Wright still found some good roles, notably as a young widow in the thriller scripted by her husband, in The Capture; and as a faithful fiancée trying to help Marlin Brandon deal with his amputation in Stanley Kramer's The Men (both 1950). Yet within a few years, she was playing middle-aged mothers in film like The Actress (1953), and The Track of the Cat (1954), even though she was still in her early '30s. By the mid-50s she found work in live television, where she could apply her stage training, in a number of acclaimed shows: Playhouse 90, General Electric Theater, Four Star Playhouse, and The United States Steel Hour.
She took a break from acting when she married her second husband, the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, (she had divorced her first husband, Busch, in 1952) and was out of the public eye for several decades, save for an isolated theater appearance. When she did return, it was intermittent, but she was always worth watching. In James Ivory's Roseland (1977), a portrait of the New York dancehall; she was poignant as a talkative widow obsessed with her late husband; and as an enigmatic old actress in Somewhere in Time, she nearly stole the picture from leads, Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour. She was still active in the '90s, appearing a few hit shows: Murder, She Wrote, Picket Fences; and a final film role in John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). She is survived by her son, Niven; daughter, Mary; and two grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Teresa Wright (1918-2005)
Sandra Dee, 1944-2005
She was born Alexandra Cymboliak Zuck on April 23, 1944 (conflicting sources give 1942, but the actual birth year has been verified by the family) in Bayonne, New Jersey. She was abandoned by her father by age five, and her mother, Mary Douvan, lied about Sandra's age so that she could put her in school and get a job. She was only five when she entered the 2nd grade. Mature for her age, Sandra's mother kept the lie going when she began her modeling career. With her fetching blonde curls and pretty face, Dee found herself moving up quickly on the modeling ladder. By the time she was 10, she was one of the top child models in the country, and by age 13, she met producer Ross Hunter, who signed her to a seven-year contract for Universal. She had her named changed to Sandra Dee (a stage name combining her shortened first name and using her stepfather's surname initial D to sign vouchers) and made her film debut in Until They Sail (1957), starring Joan Fontaine, John Gavin.
Her next film, The Reluctant Debutante, a bubbly romantic comedy with Rex Harrison, Kay Kendall and John Saxon, proved Dee to be adept in light comedy. Yet she would prove her versatility as a performer the following year - 1959, when she scored in the three biggest films of the year:A Summer Place, a brooding melodrama with fellow teen-heartthrob, Troy Donohue; Imitation of Life, a glossy, Ross Hunter sudser; and of course Gidget, the archetypical, sand and surf movie. By the dawn of the '60s, Sandra Dee mania ruled the movie fanzines worldwide.
Her personal life took a surprising turn when she hooked up with singer Bobby Darin. She met Darin in 1960 in Portofino, Italy, where they were both cast in Come September with Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida as the older romantic couple. They eventually married and she gave birth to a son, Dodd Mitchell Darin in 1961. All the while, Dee still plugged away with a series of hit films over the next few years: Romanoff and Juliet a charming satirical comedy directed by Peter Ustinoff; Tammy Tell Me True with John Gavin (both 1961; If a Man Answers (1962) a surprisingly sharp comedy of manners with husband Bobby Darin; Tammy and the Doctor, another corn-fed entry that was her leading man's Peter Fonda's big break; and Take Her, She's Mine (1963), a rather strained generation-gap comedy with James Stewart.
Her success was not to last. By the late `60s, as "youth culture" movies became more confrontational and less frivolous with references to open sexuality and drugs in the American landscape, Dee's career began to peter out. Her few films of that period : Rosie, and Doctor, You've Got To Be Kidding (both 1967) were pretty dreadful and were disasters at the box-office; and her divorce from Bobby Darin that same year, put a dent in her personal life, so Dee wisely took a sabbatical from the limelight for a few years.
The '70s actually saw Dee improve as an actress. Although by no means a classic, her role as woman falling pray to a warlock (Dean Stockwell) who sexually and psychologically dominates her in the The Dunwich Horror (1970), was nothing short of startling. Yet despite her competency as actress, her career never regained its footing, and she appeared in only a few television movies later on: The Daughters of Joshua Cabe (1972), Fantasy Island (1977).
Dee resurfaced in 1991, when she gave an interview with People magazine about her personal demons: molestation by her stepfather, anorexia, drug use and alcoholism, that had haunted her her entire life. That same year, much to the delight of her fans, she resurfaced briefly when she starred in a stage production of Love Letters at the Beverly Hill's Canon Theatre with her friend and former co-star, John Saxon. Since she was diagnosed with throat cancer and kidney failure in 2000, Dee had been in and out of hospitals for her failing health. She is survived by her son Dodd; and two granddaughters -Alexa and Olivia.
by Michael T. Toole
Sandra Dee, 1944-2005
The working titles of this film were Teach Me How to Cry, The Wonderful Years and Bandstand. According to August 1957 "Rambling Reporter" items in Hollywood Reporter, Gigi Perreau tested for the role of "Polly Fisher" and Universal considered Dorothy McGuire to play "Elizabeth Grant." A September 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Nancy Kilgas, Carol Berlin, Tony Schneider, Gary Vinson and Rieta Green to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The Restless Years marked Helmut Kautner's American directorial debut. Contemporary critics, such as the Variety reviewer, praised the film's "feeling of poetry and sensitivity" toward adolescent disaffectation.
Released in United States Winter December 1958
Released in United States Winter December 1958