Who's the real bad girl? The former gambling establishment owner who is trying to have a normal domestic life, or the Senator's daughter who has designs on the man who loves the former lady of scandal. The period triangle stars Anne Baxter, Rock Hudson and Julie Adams, and features Barry Reed and Natalie Wood as Baxter's two wards whom Adams manipulates into getting custody of so she can steal Rock for herself. It's all neatly calculated and very clever, but it's obvious that somehow true love will prevail and an embittered wife will be even more bitter.
In true soap opera fashion, Adams' character is a spoiled daddy's girl, the daughter of senator Carl Benton Reid, and the archetype that led to popular daytime soap characters like Tracy Quartermaine, Iris Cory and Vanessa Chamberlain. She is delightfully flirtatious the moment she meets the Rock, and he is not immune to her charms. But it is obviously Baxter whom he loves, and in spite of her sordid past, she is quite noble and determined to change so she can raise his young brother and the rambunctious Wood, something that gets the local church ladies talking and puts ideas into Adams' head. Adams must have reached into her acting past when she played the role of the modern but very similar Paula Denning on "Capitol" in the 1980's.
Baxter and Adams give terrific performances although Baxter tends to ovary mulch in the extremely dramatic scenes while Adams, obviously playing a shrew, is delightfully manipulative and subtle and getting what she wants. Hudson unfortunately is not a very sympathetic character, although it's easy to see why the two women would fight over him. What I did not find believable at all was Baxter's sudden desire to adopt Wood and Wood's sudden change from hellion to heroine. Betty Garde of "Caged" steals pretty much everything she's in as Baxter's feisty neighbor who becomes her closest confidante. This can really be considered enjoyable if you watch it for the camping melodrama it is.
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