From the Terrace (1960): Mark Robson’s Version of John O’Hara Starring Paul Newman

Not many good movies have been made in Hollywood from John O’Hara’s novels.  ElizabethTaylor’s star vehicle “Butterfield 8,” for which she undeservedly won an Oscar, was a disappointing adaptation and so was the failed effort of “From the Terrace,” both made in 1960.

Fox decided to cash in on the rising popularity of Paul Newman in the wake of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and his recent melodrama “The Young Philadelphians, and assigned director Mark Robson, who made the smash hit “Peyton Place” (1957).

O’Hara’s Philadelphia and Richard Powell’s Philadelphia share some similarities in common: In both, Newman plays a man on the make, an attractive if ruthless Philadelphian who wants to get places. Though O’Hara is a more accomplished novelist than Powell, the film version of his novel was inferior to Warners’ version of Powell’s, mostly due to the fact that O’Hara’s original was watered-down to a turgid scenario, full of deficiencies, and the movie’s excessive running time (Close to two and a half hours). 

Many literary critics consider the novel to be a second-tier O’Hara. At the time, Newman was on stage, appearing in Tennessee Williams’ “Sweet Bird of Youth” which would be made into a popular film by Richard Brooks, co-starring Geraldine Page.

The yarn was boiled down and dramatically compressed accommodate what the screenwriters hoped would be a fast-paced, well-acted juicy melodrama. Newman plays Alfred Eaton, a young rich Philadelphian who returns from World War I to find his mother, Martha Eaton (Myrna Loy) boozy and his father, Samuel Eaton (Leon Ames), a wealthy businessman, a dictatorial man. 

Alfred is uptight with his father, because he continues to idolize his dead older brother, with Alfred relegated to the status of a second fiddle.  Alfred must also cope with his mother’s adultery; he warns her lover to leave her alone. Scorning employment in the family business, he takes off for New York, where he joins his friend Lex Porter (George Grizzard) in an aeronautics venture.

On a Long Island (Southhapmton to be exact) weekend, Alfred meets and falls in love with Mary St. John (Joanne Woodward), a wealthy heiress, and they are married.  When Alfred saves the life of the grandson (Jimmy Martin) of James Duncan, Mac Hardie (Felix Aylmer), the grateful old man, takes Alfred into his Wall Street investment house.  His exploits on Wall Street take a toll, however, resulting in a severe neglect of his marriage. The restless, erotic-natured Mary resumes her romance with former flame psychiatrist James Roper (Patrick O’Neal).

During a business trip to a small Pennsylvania town, Alfred falls in love with Natalie Benziger (Ina Balin), a sweet, unassertive girl, lacking Mary’s demands and ego problems.  At first, the couple resists their growing love, but eventually they succumb.  Increasingly disenchanted with the success and the city’s rat race, and involved with the sincere Natalie reinforces Alfred’s conviction that his marriage and his career are in trouble.

When colleague Creighton Duffy (Howard Caine) attempts to blackmail Alfred into helping him promote a shabby investment scheme, by threatening to expose his affair with Natalie to Mac Hardie, who is opposed to infidelity and divorce among his employees, Alfred decides to take matters—and control over his future–into his own hands.  He confronts his wife about their marriage and states his case openly before Mac Hardie and the board of directors.  Free of obligations, and with a cleaner conscience, Alfred seems at long last ready to begin a more emotionally candid life with Natalie.




Paul Newman

Joanne Woodward

Myrna Loy

Ina Balin

Leon Ames

Elixabeth Allen

Barbara Eden

George Grizzard

Patrick O’Neal

Felix Aylmer

Raymond Greenleaf

Malcolm Atterbury

Raymond Bailey

Ted DeCorsia

Howard Cine

Kathryn Givney

Dorothy Adams

Lauren Gilbert

Blossom Rock

Cecil Elliott




Produced and directed by Mark Robson.

Screenplay by Ernest Lehman.

Based on the novel by John O’Hara.

Photographed by Leo Tover, A.S.C.

Art Directors, Lyle R. Wheeler, Maurice Ransford, Howard Richman.

Music by Elmer Bernstein.

Set Decorations by Walter M. Scott and Paul S. Fox.

Special Photographic Effects, L.B. Abbott, James B. Gordon.

Assistant Director, Hal Herman.

Film Editor, Dorothy Spencer.

Orchestration, Edward B. Powell.

Hairstyles by Helen Turpin.

Gowns designed by Travilla.

Makeup by Ben Nye.

Sound by Harry M. Leonard and Alfred Bruzlin.

Color by DeLuxe.

Color consultant, Leonard Doss.


Running time, 144 minutes.


I am grateful to Lawrence Quirk for providing details about the making of this picture.