The other night I watched the movie “Back Street,” the 1961 version with Susan Hayward and John Gavin. The premise of the movie is a wealthy – and married – man (John Gavin) has an affair with a single, career-minded woman (Hayward). The couple is truly in love, but the husband has two small children and an alcoholic, self-centered wife (Vera Miles) who tried to commit suicide when he mentioned divorce. The Hayward character is content to be “the other woman.”
In the end, the husband and wife are killed when the car the wife is driving crashes.
The scene that breaks my heart and has me running for the tissues is the very last one. When the two devastated children come to visit a grieving Susan Hayward and tearfully ask if they could visit her from time to time, she gathers them in her arms.
The movie is actually based on a novel written by Fannie Hurst (since I’ve never read the novel, I’m not sure how closely the 1961 version follows the book or earlier movie versions). As I cried my eyes out while Susan Hayward gazed at the grief-stricken children, I imagine an author at her computer typing out this scene and contemplated the power of the written word to touch our emotions.
What about you, readers? Has anyone seen an earlier version of "Back Street?" Are there any movies or books out there that have you crying long after the words, “The End”?