This interesting episode of "Hollywood Backstories" focuses on the original "Peyton Place" (1957). Mainly, it documents the Grace Metalious novel encountering censorship problems on its way to the screen, under the guidance of Jerry Wald. The producer's widow, Connie Wald, is among those sharing thoughts.
The main differences between the book and movie are discussed. The most obvious, and familiar, is the fact that Selena Cross' abortion becomes a miscarriage; this is very artfully changed in the film, where it follows a suspenseful chase scene. That young Selena is revealed to have been repeatedly raped makes her motivation clearer. Also, the character Norman Page was changed from a more neurotic young man, in a symbolically incestuous relationship with his mother. The Norman character was made further accessible for the TV series, when he became Rodney's brother. And, unlike the novel, Betty Anderson shows no real evidence she is a "tramp". While the film whitewashed the characters, they say enough remained to push censorship standards.
Included are a good sampling of surviving actor interviews, with Terry Moore (Betty Anderson), Russ Tamblyn (Norman Page), Hope Lange (Selena Cross), and David Nelson (Ted Carter). Reflections from writers Gerald Gardner ("The Censorship Papers") and Emily Toth ("Inside Peyton Place") are insightful. More subtly revelatory are clips from a 1958 interview with author Metalious, which seems to hint at her troubled descent into alcoholism. Lana Turner's violent liaison with mobster Johnny Stompanato, who was stabbed to death by her daughter, is also discussed.
Highlights include Wald's original 1957 introduction, some of the film's trailer, and snippets from screen and wardrobe tests. That the screen and wardrobe tests included are not shown in their entirety is regrettable; hopefully, this doesn't mean the rest is lost. Also, it would have been nice to see the footage cut from the running time, if any survives.