Susan Hayward is Rae Smith, a fashion designer who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. While meeting a potential client at a local hotel, Rae runs into Paul Saxon (John Gavin), a Marine on leave. After Paul rescues her from the unwanted attentions of her potential client, the two of them go out for a drink. Within a day, they are deeply in love with one another; however, Paul, who has a wife, is not free to pursue a future with Rae, and the two reluctantly part ways. In an effort to heal her broken heart, Rae moves to New York City, where her career takes off, as she begins working with a big-name designer.
Several years later, Rae and Paul run into one another again, and although he pursues her relentlessly, Rae is unwilling to have an illicit affair with him. In fact, she is so determined to avoid Paul that she travels to Italy with her boss. As it turns out, though, Paul, who is owner of a chain of department stores, happens to be in Italy as well, and Rae's and his paths cross once again...and this time, Paul's wife, Liz, is with him, giving Rae an opportunity to see the life Paul has away from her.
Will Rae ultimately surrender her will and succumb to an illicit love affair with Paul? Or will she continue to resist him? And what of Paul's wife? Does she love Paul? Does she know of his love for another woman? These are the questions that play out in this very soap opera-ish romantic drama. (Warning: The below video will answer those questions, so if you don't want to know those things before viewing this film, don't click on the video.)
Back Street is a definite tearjerker. I think it's also a great "discussion piece," about when divorce is acceptable and when it's not. Susan Hayward gives her usual fabulous performance. Truly, for me, she is/was the second best actress there has ever been. I haven't seen a film of hers in which her acting wasn't brilliant. For me, she definitely made this film. Vera Miles, as Paul's wife, was also brilliant in her performance. And, John Gavin, was very good...very believable...and, oh, so handsome. I definitely cared about and felt for his character.
This film, unfortunately, is not out on DVD (at least, not that I've discovered); however, it is on VHS, so if you have a working VCR (I don't), you could catch this movie that way. Definitely, though, try to see it, as it is a very moving film...kind of the ultimate "chick flick" kind of movie. I give it 4 stars, but it is more like 4.5...and very close to 5!