From the Terrace

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From the Terrace
Poster of From the Terrace.jpg
Directed by Mark Robson
Produced by Mark Robson
Written by John O'Hara (novel)
Ernest Lehman
Starring Paul Newman
Joanne Woodward
Myrna Loy
Ina Balin
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Leo Tover
Editing by Dorothy Spencer
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates July 15, 1960
Running time 149 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3,030,000[1]
Box office $5.2 million (US/ Canada rentals) [2]

From the Terrace is a 1960 American drama film directed by Mark Robson and starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Myrna Loy, Barbara Eden, Ina Balin, and Leon Ames.

The screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman based on the 1958 novel by John O'Hara that tells the story of the estranged son of a Pennsylvania factory owner who marries into a prestigious family and moves to New York to seek his fortune.


In Philadelphia in 1946, David Alfred Eaton returns home from the war to find his mother Martha a wretched alcoholic, the victim of years of neglect and abuse from her husband Samuel, the owner of a prestigious iron and steel company. Samuel emotionally withdrew from his family thirteen years earlier after the death of his beloved son Billy, and still resents the fact that Billy died while Alfred lives. Samuel begrudgingly offers his son a position in the family business, but Alfred is moving to New York to launch an aircraft business with his old friend Lex Porter.

While attending a party at the estate of Lex's wealthy uncle, Alfred makes a play for Mary St. John, the stunning daughter of a Main Line family. Mary is secretly engaged to Dr. Jim Roper, but she is sexually drawn to Alfred, and soon the two are embroiled in a tempestuous relationship. Mary's snobbish parents object that Alfred's father is a nobody and his mother is a drunk, but Mary defies them. Alfred asks his father for a loan to finance his share of the aircraft company, but Samuel humiliates Alfred and begins to sob for the lost Billy. A furious Alfred storms out in disgust, after which Samuel suffers a heart attack.

On his wedding day, Alfred receives word that his father has died. Certain that Samuel has timed his death to spite him, Alfred goes ahead with the ceremony. With his uncle's money, Lex and Alfred then fund the Nassau Aircraft Corporation, but when Lex shows more interest in perfecting aircraft designs than in selling planes, Alfred becomes impatient.

One wintry day, Alfred and Mary are driving home from a party when they see a little boy fall through the thin ice of a frozen pond. Alfred plunges into the icy waters to save him. The boy's grandfather, James Duncan MacHardie, the most famous financier in America, invites Alfred and Mary to dinner. MacHardie, a shrewd businessman, senses Alfred's drive and ambition, and when Alfred asserts that his goal in life is to earn more money than his father, MacHardie offers him a job in his investment firm.

Obsessed by success, Alfred travels the country for MacHardie, leaving Mary alone for months at a time. Lonely and self-pitying, Mary begins to resent Alfred's constant absences. Creighton Duffy, MacHardie's son-in-law, whose position is threatened by Alfred's acumen, suggests that Alfred spend two months in rural Pennsylvania checking out the business aptitude and prospects of Ralph Benziger, a prosperous coal mine owner.

After an ugly argument with his wife, Alfred goes to Pennsylvania. Invited to dinner at Benziger's home, where he meets the man's beautiful and compassionate daughter, Natalie. Lonely and overwhelmed by her sensitivity, Alfred impetuously invites her on a date, but she refuses because he is married. Later that night, however, Natalie reconsiders and arranges to meet him at a drive-in movie the following evening.

Alfred confides to Natalie that her warmth and generosity has made him realize what a sham his marriage is. They kiss and she discovers that Alfred would prefer to be called David, his given first name. Natalie still believes they must end this relationship before it goes any further, for both their sakes.

Upon returning to New York, Alfred is immediately summoned to MacHardie's office. He is informed that Mary has been having an affair with Dr. Roper. But the archly conservative MacHardie proceeds to warn Alfred that he will not tolerate divorce within his firm, considering it a failure in the employee's character. MacHardie also assigns him to analyze the Nassau Aircraft Corp., his former firm, as a possible investment.

One night, while leaving a party with his wife, Alfred unexpectedly encounters Natalie in front of the hotel. Somehow sensing that Alfred and this woman have been intimate, Mary vindictively calls Roper and makes a date with him. Alfred goes to meet Natalie and tells her that although he is estranged from Mary, his career prevents him from requesting a divorce.

Alfred begins to investigate Nassau Aircraft's business practices. Duffy, who has become unethically involved with Nassau and will reap a financial windfall if MacHardie invests in the company, threatens to blackmail Alfred unless he suppresses his report.

Alfred and Natalie find themselves unable to resist their attraction to each other and a tryst in a hotel room ensues. Photographers hired by Duffy burst in and capture their indiscretion. Natalie, uncertain if Alfred's main concern is to save her reputation or his career, decides to leave. Mary, meanwhile, suggests to her husband that they share an open marriage, seeing whomever they please. After she seductively retires to her bedroom, the scandalous photos are delivered to Alfred at his home.

At work the next day, MacHardie ushers in Mary to celebrate Alfred's surprise promotion to partner. Duffy smirks, only to see Alfred rise and denounce MacHardie's hypocrisy of placing success and social position above personal responsibility and happiness. Alfred then issues the uncensored report exposing Duffy's duplicity and walks out. Mary runs after him, but it is too late. He leaves her for good and returns to Natalie's home and a new life.



  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p252
  2. ^ "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69

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