Parrish (1961)

This old-fashioned, sentimental, mildly enjoyable melodrama stars the handsome but still Troy Donahue at the height of his popularity.

Donhue (often clad in red, which is very becoming for his blond hair and blue eyes) plays the titular role, Parrish McLean, an ordinary youngster living in a tobacoo-growing valley until his mother Ellen (Claudette Colbert) marries the rich patriarch Judd Raike (Karl Madden), who  runs a big tobacco business.

The tale revolves around Parrish and the three vastly different women in his life: his new stepsister Paige (Sharon Hugeny), the rival tobacco king’s daughter Alison (Diane McBain), and the sultry Lucy (Connie Stevens).  The women are differentiated not so much by their physical appearance (all three are attractive), as by their social class and manners.

Essentially a coming of age saga, the movie details how Parrish, jumping from one woman to another, is gradually transformed from a hot-headed, temperamental youth into a smart and mature man, determined to be a master of his fate, even if he has to use his fist to demonstrate his masculinity.

The material belongs to TV’s sappy  soap opera, but it’s well directed by the craftsman Delmer Daves, who adapted the popular novel by Mildred Savage.

The movie marks a comeback role for vet actress Claudette Colbert, who gives a solid performance as does the always reliable Karl Malden.

For Troy Donahue’s fans: This meller is a good companion piece to his 1959 film, A Summer Place, in which he was part of a large ensemble and was paired with Sandra Dee.

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