Parrish (1961): Delmer Daves’ Family Melodrama Starring Troy Donahue, Claudette Colbert (Comeback), Karl Malden and Connie Stevens

Old-fashioned, Parrish is an enjoyable two-generational family melodrama, starring the handsome and heartthrob Troy Donahue, then at the height of his popularity, as a rebellious youngster.

Grade: B (*** out of *****)


Theatrical release poster

Donhue (often clad in red shirts and sweaters, which is very becoming for his blond hair and blue eyes) plays the titular role, Parrish McLean, an ordinary youngster living in a tobacco-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 working class 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.

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.

Freudian psychology informs the tale in the central conflict between the young, independently minded man and his stepfather, a ruthless tobacco tycoon.

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.

Parrish is a 1961 American drama film made by Warner Bros.. It was written, produced and directed by Delmer Daves, based on the 1958 novel of the same name by Mildred Savage. The music score was by Max Steiner, the Technicolor cinematography by Harry Stradling Sr., the art direction by Leo K. Kuter and the costume design by Howard Shoup.

Made on a budget of $1.5 million, Parrish was extremely popular at the box-office, earning over 8 $million.

Troy Donahue as Parrish McLean
Claudette Colbert as Ellen McLean
Karl Malden as Judd Raike
Dean Jagger as Sala Post
Connie Stevens as Lucy
Diane McBain as Alison Post
Sharon Hugueny as Paige Raike
Dub Taylor as Teet Howie
Hampton Fancher as Edgar Raike
David Knapp as Wiley Raike
Saundra Edwards as Evaline Raike
Sylvia Miles as Eileen
Bibi Osterwald as Rosie
Madeleine Sherwood as Addie
Hayden Rorke as Tom Weldon
Carroll O’Connor as Broad Brook Fire Fighter


Produced, directed by Delmer Daves
Written by Delmer Daves, based on Parrish by Mildred Savage
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Harry Stradling Sr.
Edited by Owen Marks

Production company: Warner Bros.

Distributed by Warner Bros.

Release date: May 4, 1961

Running time: 138 minutes