Cast & Crew
The partners of a New York law firm are puzzled by a lawsuit that has been filed against their client, a publishing company once headed by the now-deceased Phillip Greene. The lawsuit, brought by Lucy Wales, the wife of famous Southern writer Garvin Wales, contends that Greene, Garvin's editor, withdrew thousands of dollars from the author's account and gave the money to a woman named Anna Jones. Remembering Greene as an honest man who took Wales "from the gutter" and introduced him to a life of wealth and fame, lawyer Anson Page decides to visit Pompey's Head, a Southern town situated close to the author's island estate. As his wife Meg packs his bags, Anson reminisces about his own youth in Pompey's Head, especially the many days he spent at Mulberry, a fine old house belonging to the family of his friend, Dinah Blackford. Just before he left Pompey's Head for a New York law career ten years earlier, Anson had realized that Dinah, whom he had always treated as a kid sister, was truly in love with him. The Blackford family, having lost its money, had been forced to leave Mulberry, but while young Mickey Higgins, a poor "kid from the Channel," packed up the truck for the family, Dinah had sworn that she would get the house back. As he checks into the gracious old Marlborough Hotel, Anson notes that the town, once a thriving seaport, has not changed. Anson, known as "Sonny" by his childhood friends, visits his old chum, Ian Garrick, now a local lawyer. He then drives out to the Wales's beachfront estate, but the entrance to the property is locked. Back at the hotel, Anson is surprised by a visit from Dinah, who promises to arrange a meeting between him and Lucy. Dinah drives Anson to Mulberry, where she now lives with her children and husband, Mickey. The owner of a successful company, Mickey had bought and renovated the property to please Dinah. Lucy, who is waiting in the sitting room, explains that she has filed the lawsuit for her husband, a blind man who will never write again. After Lucy leaves, Mickey asks Anson to represent his new company, Consolidated Enterprises, but Anson stiffly refuses the offer. Later, Anson and Dinah dance together at a party in his honor and, on the terrace, admit they still care for each other. Mickey suspects their mutual affection and drunkenly accuses Anson's grandfather of having been a carpetbagger. Anson leaves, whereupon Mickey bursts into Dinah's room and forces himself on her. The next day, Lucy complains that her husband's writings are "sordid and disgraceful," and that his friendship with Greene was to blame. Anson suspects that Garvin secretly asked Greene to pass money to Anna Jones and that it is Lucy, not Garvin, who is pressing the suit. Anson then declares that if Garvin formally denies his suspicions, he will give Lucy a large check. Lucy promises that Garvin will make the statement on the following day. That afternoon, while Anson and Dinah walk on the beach, Dinah explains that she married Mickey purely in order to regain Mulberry, and he married her for the respect accompanying her family name. Anson kisses Dinah repeatedly but wonders aloud whether their love should cause the breakup of both of their families. After discovering that Anna lived in an all-black town, Anson questions Garvin, who is sitting by the beach behind his home. Unaware that Lucy is listening from behind a tree, Garvin reluctantly admits that Anna, a light-skinned black woman who is now dead, was his mother. Lucy, whose Devereaux family was one of the most important in Pompey's Head, never knew about her husband's background: Garvin's father, a white sharecropper from Alabama and a brute, reared him after his mother dropped him "in a corn patch," and then moved to Pompey's Head. Garvin won fame as a writer and then returned to the South, where Anna threatened to reveal her relationship to him unless he "paid her off." Greene quietly made the payments for Garvin to prevent the world from learning that he was "not only trash, but black trash." Astounded, Anson assures Garvin that regardless of his parentage, he has given the world great writing. He then gives Garvin the check and leaves, catching sight of the horrified Lucy as he walks away. Later, Lucy returns the check, telling Anson that Garvin has explained everything: Because Garvin came from a family of wealthy landowners, he was too ashamed to tell her that he gave money to their "old colored maid." Anson tells Dinah that Lucy, whose simple view of life precludes the truth, will probably come to believe this story. His father, he adds, called it "the view from Pompey's Head." Dinah plans to leave Mickey for Anson, but Mickey points out that Dinah will never be able to give up Mulberry. Dinah admits that she, like Lucy, is trying to "hold onto something," and that Anson still loves his wife. At the train station, Dinah tearfully kisses Anson goodbye.
Dorothy Patrick Davis
De Forest Kelley
Paul S. Fox
Harry M. Leonard
Walter M. Scott
E. Clayton Ward
Lyle R. Wheeler
Darryl F. Zanuck
According to materials contained in Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, Fox paid $75,000 for the rights to Hamilton Basso's novel. When the studio's purchase of the film rights was announced in an November 8, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, Julian Blaustein was listed as the film's producer. The studio originally wanted Gregory Peck to play "Anson"; Jean Simmons, Maggie McNamara or June Allyson to portray "Dinah"; Basil Ruysdael to play "Garvin"; and Eva LeGallienne or Ethel Barrymore to portray "Lucy," according to materials in the Fox files. The View from Pompey's Head marked the motion picture debut of child actress Evelyn Rudie, who portrayed "Cecily Higgins."
Although publicity materials contained in the AMPAS Library files note that silent film stars Cleo Ridgely, Dorothy Phillips, Lulu Betz, Helen Foster and Anne Cornwall were added to the cast, and that Maria Cimarusti played "Dinah" and "Mickey's" sixteen-month-old child, their participation in the released film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter news items include Sandra Ross, Seletha Huff and band leader Benny Carter in the cast, but their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed.
Publicity materials and Hollywood Reporter news items reveal that the film was partially shot on location around Brunswick and Savannah, GA. Brunswick's Ogelthorpe Hotel served as the Marlborough Hotel and the 18th-century plantation Wormsloe provided the exterior of "Mulberry." The beach scenes were shot at Jekyll Island, Sea Island and St. Simmons Island.
According to information in the film's file in the MPAA/PCA Collection, located at the AMPAS Library, approval of the script was initially refused because of its portrayal of adultery. To satisfy the PCA, the adulterous relationship between "Anson" and "Dinah" was changed to a love affair that stops just short of infidelity. The Motion Picture Herald Prod Digest review noted, "As an attack on present-day systems of caste-among the whites themselves as well as for the Negro-this picture treads but lightly on Southern toes. It is more of a gentle reprimand than a vigorous assault....This placement of emphasis is all to the good, since it is what the paying customers prefer." This picture marked the first appearance of English actress Dana Wynter in a picture produced in the United States. Wynters had previously appeared in several films made in England, including the M-G-M British production of Knights of the Round Table. The View from Pompey's Head also marked the first time that Dorothy Patrick was billed as Dorothy Patrick Davis.
Voted Best Supporting Actress (Rambeau--shared for her work in "A Man Called Peter") by the 1955 National Board of Review.
Released in United States Fall November 1955
Released in United States Fall November 1955