Where Love Has Gone (1964)
“From the blistering best-seller! From the team that brought you ‘The Carpetbaggers’! The explosive story of the violent world where a mother and her teenage daughter compete for the same lover…WHERE LOVE HAS GONE goes where no motion picture has ever dared go before!”
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Cast: Bette Davis, Susan Hayward, Mike Connors
Synopsis: A divorced couple’s teen-age daughter stands trial for stabbing her mother’s latest lover.
Edward Dmytryk’s Where Love Has Gone is probably as good as it could have expected to be given that it was adapted from a novel by sleaze-meister novelist Harold Robbins who, as was his tendency, drew inspiration for his novel from media gossip columns. Specifically, the novel Where Love Has Gone was based on the infamous murder of gangster Mickey Cohen’s sometime enforcer Johnny Stompanato by 15-year-old Cheryl Crane, the daughter of actress Lana Turner, for whose career the whole unsavoury episode proved to be a (short-lived) shot in the arm. One can only marvel at the producers’ restraint in refraining from casting Turner in the role of slutty sculptress Valerie Hayden Miller…
The story is told from the viewpoint of architect and former war hero Luke Miller (Mike Connors), who receives a phone call in the middle of an important business meeting informing him that his daughter, from whom he’s been forcibly estranged for a number of years, has been arrested for the murder of his ex-wife’s shady lover. His arrival prompts a lengthy flashback which lasts for around half the movie, and which traces his relationship with his former wife, Valerie Hayden Miller (Susan Hayward — David and Bathsheba, The Revengers), a successful sculptress (It has to be said that the few scenes in which we see Hayward, with mallet and chisel in hand, trying to give a convincing interpretation of a sculptress at work are simply priceless, and would alone have been worth the price of admission back in 1964). Valerie was attracted to Miller because of the way he stood up to her mother (Bette Davis — All About Eve) when the overbearing old woman offered him a position in the family business if he married her daughter. When the couple marry for love instead, Miller tries to begin his own business but is unable to raise the necessary finance, thanks to behind-the-scenes machinations of Mrs Hayden. Eventually Miller is forced to accept that position with the family business, but although he’s given a fancy job title, he quickly discovers that he’s nothing more than a glorified office boy. While he turns to drink and begins to neglect his wife, she starts sleeping around in an attempt to find inspiration for her work. Quite how that works is a mystery but, hey, she’s a creative type — they’re not like you and me. Inevitably, the marriage disintegrates and the couple part on bad terms, with the alcoholic Miller refused permission to see their daughter.
Although this flashback is a lengthy one, it does actually handle the deterioration of the Miller’s marriage quite convincingly, even if it is told in the typically overwrought and melodramatic tone that eventually defeats the entire picture. It’s certainly more entertaining than the present-day storyline in which young Danielle (Joey Heatherton) has grown up to be the kind of disturbed kid you’d expect her to be with parents like Luke and Valerie. She doesn’t want to see her dad, and her mum refuses to visit her for some reason, thus allowing Mrs Hayden to step in and begin the process of gaining control of the child when a decision of justifiable homicide is given. Naturally, neither parent wants this for their daughter, but to make things more difficult various low-lifes are blackmailing them into buying back incriminating love letters written to the dead man by both Valerie and her daughter.
Where Love has Gone has a certain trashy appeal for those who like that kind of thing, but can hardly be described as a good movie. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic — not even young Dani, who’s supposed to be the real victim in all this. Susan Hayward, who was never a great actress in her prime, but was well past it here, hams it up outrageously, as if she’s afraid of being overshadowed by the legendary Ms Davis, who, at 56 years of age was only nine years older than her screen daughter – although you wouldn’t think it to look at her. Even though she’s sporting a white wig, you can tell she was paying the price for all those years of excess, and the camera is rarely permitted to get too close to her bloated, haggard features. Her performance is one of the few reasons to watch Where Love Has Gone, however, despite her giving the impression that she’s cruising on auto-pilot. Either way, she certainly shows up Connors and Heatherton as the TV actors they primarily were, while Star Trek’s DeForest Kelley (Warlock) struggles to make anything of an insipid role as Hayden Miller’s pipe-sucking agent.
(Reviewed 12th April 2014)