Find That Film: The Long, Hot Summer

I apologize for thinking today is Wednesday. I’ve been on the wrong day all week. Without further ado, here is episode 15 The Long, Hot Summer.

The successful team of director Martin Ritt and screenplay duo Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. cobbled some Faulkner to create this Southern melodrama. We follow Ben Quick (Paul Newman) as he tries to find a place he can make his own without the past pushing crushing him. Along the way he falls for Clara (Joanne Woodward) the daughter of the town’s biggest boss Will Varner (Orson Welles). Varner expects his children to keep the family name going and to stay in control of their small town. He places enormous pressure on his son Jody (Anthony Franciosa) to produce profits and grandchildren. He sees the arrival of Ben as a chance to challenge Jody to become something.

In the meantime, Mr. Varner’s lover Minnie (Angela Lansbury) has decided she wants legitimacy and plans a wedding whether he likes it or not. Clara struggles with love and passion and how her beau Alan (Richard Anderson) compares with Ben. Lee Remick rounds out the cast as Jody’s wife Eula; the hottest woman in town.

This southern tale isn’t quite as dark as many of the others to come out of the 50s/60s genre. Clearly, Tennessee Williams influenced the screenwriters but there is hope and love in this movie. Orson Welles stands out as the Big Daddy type. If you enjoy seeing Welles suffer a bit (I know some do) then you should enjoy this. Hit the store shelves and check your local listings to find that film The Long, Hot Summer.



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