CLIMBNG THE LADDER DOWN

From the Terrace, based on John O’Hara’s blockbuster about climbing the ladder of success within the parameters of everyone else’s demands, is given the Mark Robson treatment. As with Peyton Place, The Prize, Valley of the Dolls and Earthquake, when the material has been geared for specific trash response, Robson’s limited talent keeps that trash rolling. Paul Newman, looking not so fresh after Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Long Hot Summer, isn’t exactly acting; in fact he seems a little embarrassed, as indeed he should because so much of the plot is missing: whatever happened to Myrna Loy, his drunk mother? Couldn’t she have had one last booze blast at her bastard husband’s funeral? In platinum blond hair and wings as eye brows, Joanne Woodward is fun in one of her rare rich bitch roles, lobbing off script adapter Ernest Lehman’s shit-loaded lines like a true pro, and she’s particularly effective with one to extramarital lover Patrick (Getting Slapped Again) O’Neal: “You’re not to come here anymore.” The lovely Ina Balin basically started her years-long career as a chronic sufferer here as Newman’s retaliatory love interest who loves his “saddness.” Elmer Bernstein steals his love theme from North By Northtwest. Travilla does the costumes, most of which Woodward is too short for and Elizabeth Allen (as Sage Rimmington, the movie’s most amusing name) too tall. Try as they do, the ladies fail to provide the required panache for all the ensembles, formals (a blue wedding gown!), tierras, furs, stoles, hats, mink collars and matching cuffs.

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