Restless Years, The (1958): Youth Melodrama, Starring Sandra Dee as Illegitimate Daughter

Sandra Dee’s first leading role was in the youth melodrama The Restless Years, directed by Helmut Käutner, starring John Saxon, Teresa Wright, James Whitmore and Luana Patten.

Dee plays Melinda Grant, a 16-year-old girl who dreams of leaving her suffocating hometown of Libertyville and see the world.

Raised by a single mother, Elizabeth, a seamstress, she suffers the stigma of being illegitimate, though her mother insists that Melinda’s father had died.

At a school dance, Melinda is taunted by popular students Polly and Bruce.  But she is befriended by Will who tells her that, as a traveling salesman’s son, he’s lived in many different towns and now wants to settle down.

Polly and Bruce try to drive them off the road after Will offers Melinda a ride home.  Tension grows when Melinda accepts the advice of teacher Miss Robson to audition for Our Town, the school play, in which she beats out Polly for the leading role.

Will’s romantic interest in Melinda disturbs to her mother. Elizabeth finally acknowledges to Melinda that her father left town without marrying her. She fears that Melinda would meet the same fate, but Will reassures her that he will be back.