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Back Street

Susan Hayward , John Gavin , David Miller    VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Back Street (1961) Director: David Miller Stars: Susan Hayward, John Gavin, Vera Miles

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TEARSTAINED IN MINK July 3 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Susan Hayward and Lana Turner battled it out on the screen in the early 1960's for the heavy weight crown of tearstained mink queen of the movies. What was left for an actress over 40 in 1961 but the highly glamorous gloss of a Ross Hunter picture or the grand gargoyle glamour of something like "Baby Jane"? Not much. To be a female movie star of a certain age at that time in Hollywood and to some extent even today meant only one thing, you're Over The Hill baby.
Both actresses had done their best work during the preceding two decades. It was Lana of the tawdry emotions versus hard Hayward of the rat-a-tat Brooklyn delivery always punctuated with a Garlandesque gesture. With films like "Ada", "Stolen Hours" and "Where Love Has Gone", Hayward wins the crown.
"Back Street" is the jewel in this crown. The essential Hayward tearjerker with all the required elements, an impossibly beautiful mannequin of a leading man for her and the audience to project their dreams upon. A truly wicked wife for him to make it almost impossible to denounce Hayward for coming between them, and two throwaway children to soften the tragic end of the film in one final surge of violins and Kleenex. All of this played out in the glamour capitals of New York, Rome and Paris provided by Universal's backlot (and a few lovely locations in Monterey County doubling for the Italian coast). Add to the mix the highly sophisticated costumes of the early 60's and sets of stunning beauty, all strung together to one of the most lyrically beautiful scores ever written for this genre. The result is the glossiest most improbably romantic film of her career that can be taken today in one of two ways, high camp comedy or lush romance. It all depends upon your point of view.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Tear-Jerker with a Knockout Performance Sept. 17 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
As the 1950's came to an end, it seemed as though the genre known as the "tear-jerker" was the sole property of Lana Turner. Having starred in "Portrait in Black" and "Imitation of Life," it was obviously the American movie-going public could not except anyone else in their "weepies." However, Universal gave Susan Hayward a shot with a remake of an earlier work "Back Street." Saddled with contract player John Gavin, a Rock Hudson "clone", Miss Hayward was good as "the other woman" romantically involved with a married man. But, the movie belongs to Vera Miles as the "scorned" wife. She ignites every scene with a bitchiness that rivals anything every filmed. Her Liz Saxon is an alcoholic, an adultress, a poor mother, and a flashy dresser, to boot. The confrontation between Hayward's Rae Smith and Miles' Saxon at a trendy Paris fashion show is a highlight for its over-the-top melodrama that only could've been made by Ross Hunter. They just don't make 'em like that any more! It's our loss.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Only for the faint of heart... Dec 27 2002
Format:VHS Tape
The modern audience for this film is probably pretty narrow -- hardcore fans of the romance genre and those who like to laugh at its conventions. This is a fairly dull tear-jerker romance, featuring Susan Hayward as a feisty fashion designer who falls for a married man (played by a geefy, Rock Hudson-esque John Gavin) who also just happens to be a millionaire businessman. It's OK, though: the husband is excused for having an affair because his wife is an alcoholic golddigger who won't let him out of her clutches. (Vera Miles, who was a hottie!) The film -- which plays out like an old-fashioned '50s romance comic -- was so dull that I stopped watching, bleary eyed, two-thirds of the way through, but I suspect a drunken car crash may have freed the young lovers from the wife's oppressive yoke. Sluggishly plotted and full of what was meant to pass as glitz and glamour. Pretty silly, and obviously a good candidate for fans of 'Fifties camp culture.
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4.0 out of 5 stars GONE IS THE ROMANCE June 9 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Okay, folks...clearly this movie was made for another time, another decade, another life....it's 1961, and Ross Hunter has churned out these weepers for years now. The audiences wanted a love affair that appeared "heavenly," "bad," etc. Sure John Gavin is a cad..he never bothers to tell Susan Hayward that he's married and has two children. Sure, Vera Miles is the ultimate bitch---cold, calculating, unloving, and an alcoholic to boot. Sure Gavin should get a divorce in spite of Miles' threats. Sure the kids are hokey and unconvincing actors. Too many gowns, too many starry eyed I love yous...but isn't this what movies like BACK STREET are all about. No matter what, one can't deny the tissue factor when hunky Gavin lies dying in his bed, and when the children ask if they can visit Rae.
This isn't cinematic history folks..it's just a glitzy and moving tearjerker, which will probably stand the test of time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful and Brilliant Actress Dec 13 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Susan Hayward blessed us with so many great film performmances:
"I'd Climb the Highest Mountain", "With a Song in My Heart",
"David and Bathsheba", "I'll Cry Tomorrow"...
"Back Street" gives us another dizzying performance by a red head
many of us fell in love with before Lucy (not that I think they
are comparable). The story may be a 3 hanky affair; but just to
see Susan Hayward is a joy that will never grow old. She gives
a brilliant performance. Also, Vera Miles gives a very poised
unsympathetic performance as the wronged wife.
Susan, You were one of my first screen loves and I'll never
forget you and your movies.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG it was the most romantic, tear jerker
I could watch this movie again and again, its one of those classic movies that u can never get enough of
Published 7 months ago by Nadine
5.0 out of 5 stars Sidesplittingly funny
This movie must have arrived in garbage rather than film cans, and via the sewage rather than the postal system. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2003 by R. W. Holliston
1.0 out of 5 stars A chick flick for chicks with strange and unstable values
John Gavin, the hero of this first-class comedy, wasn't really a hero but a a cad with about as much talent, romance, and emotion as a life-sized cardboard standup, like the ones... Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2002 by J B
5.0 out of 5 stars Another 5 Star Hanky movie
This is another great, wonderful, tearful, romantic, tragic love story and is great to watch on a rainy afternoon. Sure it's campy but it's also acting at it's peak by Susan. Read more
Published on Oct. 24 2002 by Rick D. Barszcz
4.0 out of 5 stars Terry Asheville
Who can replace Susan Hayward an underrated legend in her time who could play any character with conviction and ease. She even rose above some pretty rotten material. Read more
Published on April 27 2002 by Terry Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars "Save the wishbone for me."
When Miss Susan Hayward, bl inking through tear-washed lashes, utters these words by phone upon a lonely Thanksgiving, away from her lover, the great John Gavin, and so loving... Read more
Published on June 24 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars BRIC-BRAC STREET
This is iron-on melodrama with a great turn by Vera Miles as a vindicative priveliged wife. John Gavin could have been replaced by a fire hydrant, and delivered the same... Read more
Published on June 12 2001 by Guy De Federicis
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Love Story
This was one of my favorite movies of all time. I love John Gavin, he is so gorgeous and Susan Hayward is a legend. Read more
Published on June 8 2001 by jeanette chisholm
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 year search is over...
I've never been so affected by a movie that I would track it down as I have this one. I'm impressed to find it on Amazon. This is 100% of all the previous reviews written here. Read more
Published on June 23 2000
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