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DEBORAH WINTERS & ELI WALLACH IN 'THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR'

Title: THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR Year: 1970 Rating: ***1/2

David Greene's obscure THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR is out to prove that a parent, in particular a father working eight-hours and then having a nightcap and sleeping pill to fall asleep, is just the same as a wayward teenager dropping acid...

The latter happens quickly as underrated starlet Deborah Winters, after watching brother Stephen McHattie's hippie band rehearsing, winds up in her own closet, seeing God on a mountain and thus, freaking out...

Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR

Hooked up with a junkie, she later attempts spitefully french-kissing dad Eli Wallach, married to chain-smoking Julie Harris, both desperately trying to figure out what makes their drug-fueled, discontented daughter tick...

Ironically, Winters would wind up in another LSD-centered cult film, BLUE SUNSHINE, and she always gives an intense performance, visually epitomizing the cute blonde California girl who's also miserably unglued, in this case adding much-needed suspense, like anything can happen at any time...

Deborah Winters and Stephen McHattie in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR

And while both her bad acid trip and idealistic tantrums literally peak too soon for an effectively cohesive melodrama of a clashing suburban clan to follow, NEXT DOOR is a semi-worthwhile compromise between parent-centered anti-drug propaganda and counter-culture exploitation for the young people, despite the youth-rebel cliches...

That Winters mostly rises above despite a somewhat mundane television-style script... which fits since she had co-starred in a 1968 CBS Playhouse (with a different surrounding cast) that this feature was adapted from, so, when she eventually takes a backseat to the primary story (while her parents deal with their own mundane demons) there's hardly any tale to tell since, after all, a bad trip beats a bummer trip.

DEBORAH WINTERS remembers ELI WALLACH from THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR also starring Julie Harris

DEBORAH WINTERS ON ELI WALLACH: Eli was a dear man... I remember the night he invited Julie Harris and I to his apartment for dinner. It was just the three of us. I think his wife was working and his son had moved away already. He was young, but grown already. He spoke so fondly of his son. He was very proud if him...

He cooked us dinner and we had such a nice evening. He drove a Fiat and loved it. He spoke of how great the car was... that you could raise it up in high water situations. He was always jovial and helpful on the set, too, and with his passing, another great talent is lost: Not many character actors like Eli Wallach around today. He had a good marriage and didn't have a drug or alcohol problem. I respected him and was very fortunate to have worked with him.

Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR with Eli Wallach

Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR with Stephen McHattie
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
Flipside of THE  PEOPLE NEXT DOOR Blu Ray
Flipside of THE  PEOPLE NEXT DOOR Blu Ray
Deborah Winters in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR

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