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Home from the Hill Review


Excellent
The trailer for Home from the Hill blares, "The story of the Hunnicutt Family and The Secret they hid too long! The town that talked too much and the love they tried to destroy!" In 1960, Home from the Hill, based on the bestselling book by William Humphrey, was the latest in the smoldering big-screen genre Hollywood was cooking up featuring big stars and Cinemascope vistas: Upscale Southern Decrepitude. Influenced by William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams, the genre showcased the likes of the blown-all-out-of-proportion The Long Hot Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Douglas Sirk's simmering Written on the Wind. The films contained the same ingredients -- expansive manor homes, horny patriarchs, family secrets, and neurotic children ready to blow the lid off of everything. Home from the Hill has all that but it also has a bit more -- terrific acting by Robert Mitchum, George Hamilton, and George Peppard (forget Eleanor Parker, who plays her role like Blanche Dubois on the range), plus Vincente Minnelli as director.

Mitchum is a Texas landowner, Capt. Wade Hunnicutt, who owns the town, lives in a big house, and spends his time bedding down most of the women in the town (Wade comments at one point, "I'll tell you something -- I can't even remember which one she was"). Holding his face to the mirror is his wife Hannah (Parker), who for the past 17 years has locked her bedroom door to Wade, forcing Wade to take his biological urges elsewhere. Wade wants Hannah to forgive him and unlock the door. Hannah just gives him an icy stare. As their son Theron (Hamilton) remarks, "They live in the same house and kill each other a little at a time." Theron is their only son. He is 17 and now Wade wants to take him under his wing and show him how to be a man. Wade teaches Theron to hunt and has his hired hand Rafe (Peppard) show him the ropes as far as women are concerned. But then all hell breaks loose when Hannah reveals to Theron that Rafe is, in fact, Wade's illegitimate son. With the gloves off, Wade is forced into the realization that "We're rotten parents and we live in a rotten house." But by then it is too late for the Hunnicutts.

Continue reading: Home from the Hill Review

Hud Review


Excellent
Like Cool Hand Luke, Hud's a tough nut to crack.

Hud's a scoundrel, troublemaker, corner-cutter, and latter-day outlaw, and Paul Newman pours his soul into the memorable anti-hero. Hud works on a small ranch with his ailing father (Melvyn Douglas), upstanding teenage brother (Brandon De Wilde), and mildly tawdry housekeeper (Patricia Neal). He's rousted out of bed one morning (well, not his bed) due to an emergency at the ranch... which turns out to be a sickness among the cattle. Ultimately that is revealed to be "the worst kind" of problem... hoof and mouth disease. The entire herd will have to be shot and buried. The mass slaughter is a truly horrifying sight without being extreme in its graphicness.

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Norma Rae Review


Good
Sally Field made us like her, really like her, as the scrappy, titular star of this unionization drama, the true story of a poor textile worker who rallies the troops to vote in the union at her plant. Now awfully dated and more than a little one-sided, Norma Rae is a fine showcase for Field's prodigious acting talents, but it's hardly the classic it's often surmised to be.
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