The sex, we intuit, was good - at least for Mary, who spends the rest of the film longing for it, as Alfred continues to focus his potency on career. For a film of its period, even for a film of its kind - this is, unabashedly, one of those schmaltzy romantic dramas for which 20th Century Fox was almost uniquely known - FROM THE TERRACE is remarkably frank about the female sexual drive, which also extends to Alfred's own mother (Myrna Loy), whose search for satisfaction has led her into a middle-aged affair and alcoholism. Much as Alfred had to join the military to escape his family, he flees his wife's rightful itch by taking longer and longer field trips for his company, until one such trip takes him for an extended time to a mining town in Philadelphia, where he becomes acquainted with a man, a family, and a daughter (Ina Balin - frankly, insufficient casting) whose examples show him everything of human substance that his life has been missing. Meanwhile, back at home, Mary embarks on an affair with her former fiancé, only to discover that love really had nothing to do with their attraction to one another. When she raises the question of possible marriage in their love nest, her swain's reaction to the word is so contrary that one wonders in retrospect why they had ever been engaged in the first place.
At two hours and twenty minutes, FROM THE TERRACE is long for a picture of its type, but screenwriter Ernest Lehman (SABRINA, THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS) applies that time to the sensitive unknotting of some unusually adult problems. It also takes the trouble to define some adult problems overlooked by 99% of other movies, particularly when Alfred's boss MacHardie (excellent work by THE MUMMY's Felix Aylmer) explains to his intense young executive that marriage is, above all, a contract; that businessmen are judged by their ability to honor their contracts; and that, from this perspective, infidelity is a lesser evil than divorce, though neither is excusable. MacHardie's logic is hardline and difficult to contest, but Alfred realizes that his decision to abide by it had less to do with honoring his agreements than with selfish ambition, which is demonstrated in time to bring out the worst in people - especially one's competitors - and soil all quality of life.
FROM THE TERRACE is now available from Screen Archive Entertainment as a limited edition Blu-ray disc from Twilight Time, sporting a sumptuous new 4K transfer (remarkable to think that Newman went on to cement his stardom with a string of black-and-white films like THE HUSTLER and HUD) with an isolated music track for a rather hectoring score by Elmer Bernstein.