WHERE LOVE HAS GONE (Edward Dmytryk, 1964)

In the late fifties, Hollywood glamourpuss Lana Turner, once the “sweater girl” and “the girl next door,” became embroiled in a scandal involving the stabbing death of boyfriend Johnny Stompanato, an enforcer for gangster Mickey Cohen, presumably by Turner’s 15-year-old daughter. An inquest determined the motive as self-defense, but rumors arose that the girl, who was protected by juvenile delinquency laws, may have taken the fall for her mother, whose career was at stake. Novelist Harold Robbins may have been exploiting these rumors in his 1962 potboiler Where Love Has Gone (beautiful title, incidentally), which many at the time saw as a fictionalization of the Turner-daughter-Stompanato event. Two years later, the film version changed the names of major characters (Luke Carey became Luke Miller; Nora Hayden, Valerie Hayden)—I presume, as a sly tease regarding the origins of the plot. (There is a vague suggestion that the 1945 film of James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce also influenced the plot.) As in the book, Nora/Valerie is no longer a movie star but a society “sculptress.” The weapon is a sculpting chisel.
     Edward Dmytryk, the “Hollywood Ten” member who recanted his courage, tiresomely directed—there isn’t a single shot of any interest—from a lame script by John Michael Hayes. (Hayes’s script for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, 1954, was his best.) Susan Hayward and, as Valerie’s imperious mother, Bette Davis both act superficially—in my minority opinion, Hayward a lot more convincingly and compellingly. Joey Heatherton comes off best, perhaps, as daughter and granddaughter Dani (Danielle). What fascinates me most, though, is the scandal-dipped nature of this cast. Not long before Turner’s ordeal, Hayward had an ordeal of her own: with its sensational disclosures, her widely publicized divorce from actor Jess Barker, which, among other things, cost her an Oscar (as Lillian Roth, in I’ll Cry Tomorrow, Daniel Mann, 1955). In the 1940s, rumors started that Warner Bros. covered up studio superstar Davis’s killing of an abusive spouse. Lastly, when she was fifteen, Heatherton married Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lance Rentzel, who broke their marriage by exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl. Indeed, Rentzel had been caught flashing earlier—B.J.: Before Joey.

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