Harry Kleiner’s excellent script follows the general structure of Marty Holland’s eponymous novel, vastly improving the material from scene to scene. Significant deletions from the novel will be indicated in italics.
The author of the novel, Marty (Mary) Holland…
… and the covers of the 1945 (first two ones) and 1950 editions (third one).
Novel and film both start with a memorable opening scene: down-on-his-luck drifter Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews) gets evicted from a bus, and lands in Pop’s place on the outskirts of Walton, California. The sexual “mechanics” of the story are immediately established with Stella’s (Linda Darnell) spectacular entrance, coming back from another “bad” date.
After a wary exchange, fraught with sexual tension, Eric comes back for Pop’s and takes Stella on a date. The bogus “spirit” show of “Professor” Madley (John Carradine) and the presentation of June and Clara Mills (Alice Faye and Anne Revere) follow.