If Berry-Berry Willart was my brother, I wouldn't go around bragging about it.
1962 was a banner year for John Frankenheimer, seeing the release of three major motion pictures he directed, including Birdman of Alcatraz and The Manchurian Candidate. The first one to reach audiences, though, was All Fall Down, which boasted a screenplay by William Inge, who was fresh off the success of the previous year's Splendor in the Grass, the film that launched the screen career of Warren Beatty. Eager to capitalize on the rising star, the ads for All Fall Down played up Beatty's role as desirable drifter Berry-Berry Willart, who's idealized all out of proportion by his family. His impressionable brother (Brandon de Wilde) has an excuse because he's only 16, but their mother (Angela Lansbury, warming up for her role as Raymond Shaw's domineering mother in The Manchurian Candidate) practically worships the ground he walks on, which goes a long way toward explaining why he never visits. Only his father (Karl Malden) seems to see through him, but he has his own problems, most of which begin and end with the fact that he's a not-so-secret drinker.
The other major character is Echo O'Brien (Eva Marie Saint), a friend of the family who mockingly refers to herself as "The Old Maid of Toledo" when she comes to visit. Even so, she's something of a shameless flirt and it isn't long before de Wilde has fallen head over heels in love with her. This makes it all the harder for him when she finally meets the long-absent Berry-Berry and, in spite of his ridiculous nickname, the two of them are drawn together. The prospect of settling down scares the bejesus out of him, though, which leads to an unhappy conclusion for all concerned. Well, everyone except for Frankenheimer, whose future couldn't have been brighter. Then again, he did spend seven years laying the ground work for it the trenches of live television. If he were still alive today, Frankenheimer would be living proof that preparation pays off.