A Separate Peace (film)

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A Separate Peace
Directed by Larry Peerce
Produced by Robert A. Goldston
Otto Plaschkes
Written by John Knowles and Fred Segal (based on the former's novel)
Starring John Heyl, Parker Stevenson
Narrated by Parker Stevenson
Music by Charles Fox
Cinematography Frank Stanley
Edited by John C. Howard
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
Running time
104 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $1,250,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]

A Separate Peace is a 1972 film directed by Larry Peerce. It was adapted by John Knowles and Fred Segal (brother of George and father of Nick), from the former's best-selling novel of the same name. It starred Parker Stevenson, who would later rise to fame as Frank Hardy on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, and as "Craig Pomeroy" on Baywatch.


Set in a school called Devon, it follows the friendships of two young teens, Finn and Gene. Both of them share both good times and bad times as they attempt to go through the teen process towards adulthood, along with studying in school: they also consider being drafted, if that should come. The film is set in 1943, during World War II, and is told by an older Gene. The film was shot at the Phillips Exeter Academy, where the real John Knowles went to school.



Vincent Canby of the New York Times was impressed: "Larry Peerce's film version of A Separate Peace is so good and true in small, subsidiary details of costume, music, weather and such that the ultimate banality of what it's all about is just that much more apparent, and just that much more difficult to accept without seeming unnecessarily ill-tempered. ...Peerce is very good with his almost completely nonprofessional cast, especially with John Heyl, a stocky, handsome young man whose face reflects the profound cheerfulness of someone who' will never grow old. Parker Stevenson has the more difficult role (perhaps an impossible one) and I'm not sure I'd have had much idea of what was going on in his mind had I not ready the book. As he displayed in Goodbye, Columbus, Peerce has a positive talent not only for period detail, but also for knowing when and how to cut around and away from the performances of non-actors so that Heyl, Stevenson and a large proportion of the Exeter student body manage to come up trumps." [2]

Not so kind was film historian Leonard Maltin, who denounced the picture in his annual Movie and Video Guide: "This supposedly-sensitive story, from an overrated novel, is morbid enough to make anyone gag. The acting is incredibly amateurish, and the direction has no feeling at all for the period. A Total Bummer is more like it."


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 60
  2. ^ Vincent Canby, "Peerce's Version of 'A Separate Peace': Story of Friendships at School; Exeter Locale Adds to Emphasis on Details" Sept. 28, 1972 http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A02E0D6143BE43BBC4051DFBF668389669EDE&action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Fvertical%3Dmovies%2F%23%2Fa%2Bseparate%2Bpeace%2F

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