The story examines the adult lives of two onetime teen lovers, Ken (Egan) and Sylvia (McGuire), who were from different social strata. Ken was self-supporting, working as a lifeguard at Pine Island, an exclusive Maine resort, while Sylvia’s nouveau riche family stayed as guests of the owners, one summer between years at college. They went on to marry different people – entirely the wrong people, it turned out. Ken’s wife Helen (Ford) turns out to be frigid and shuts him out romantically, while Sylvia’s husband Bart (Kennedy) becomes an alcoholic, gradually costing him the family fortune. Ken buries himself in the research chemist’s job he finds after college, while Sylvia devotes herself first to charity work, then motherhood.
The saving grace of each marriage is their children, Sylvia’s son Johnny (Donahue) and Ken’s daughter Molly (Dee). Ken and Sylvia meet again on Pine Island after twenty years, with Ken now wealthy through his chemistry work, while Bart has turned his family’s mansion (their sole remaining asset) into an inn, which is failing. Johnny and Molly meet and fall in love, while Ken and Sylvia begin to cheat with each other on their spouses.
Amidst the electric fireflies and tailor-made flowers there's some real artistry hidden here. I'm an absolute sucker for technicolor oceans and Harry Stradling appears to have known my weakness. Meanwhile drunken, spiteful Arthur Kennedy's doing, if not the best work of his career, then at least my favourite. He leads a cast of catty bitches, itching to get their claws into each other. A feast if you're hungry.