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Barry K. Barnes
Much to the consternation of the local townsfolk, the very rich Copper John Brodrick begins to develop a copper mine on Hungry Hill. He imports Cornish workers hoping to eventually entice the locals into working for him. His son, known as Greyhound John, isn't so sure anything will endear them to the locals. The opposition to the Brodricks is lead by the Donovan family and he gives them fair warning to stay off the property. When one of the protesters is killed while trying to help himself to some of the copper, the townspeople attack the facilities resulting in a great many more deaths - including one of Brodrick's sons, Henry - when the gunpowder store explodes. It marks the true beginning of a feud that will last for decades. Brodrick rebuilds his facilities and Greyhound John returns from London where he is studying the law after his sister tells him Fanny Rosa has also returned. A cave-in at the mine kills another member of the Donovan family but the younger John contracts ... Written by
A film adaptation of a (lesser-known) Daphne Du Maurier novel, HUNGRY HILL offers an interesting, yet mostly bleak look at social divide. This costume drama juxtaposes the bourgeois copper mine owners the Brodricks with the working family the Donovans, paralleling their lives and constant feuding over a 50 year-period.
Margaret Lockwood gets first billing as Fanny Rose, who marries into the wealthy Brodrick family. Miss Lockwood gets one of the better parts on offer here, her character arc changing from a wilful coquette to a bright young married, and then finally to an elderly widowed woman looking back on life. Dennis Price plays her husband, who wishes to reconcile with the Donovan clan. Cecil Parker is memorable as the head of the family, whilst a young and lovely Jean Simmons appears briefly as Jane, younger sister of Price.
The bleakness of the source material does not give the film much to work with, and the film is often talky and mundane in many stretches. The production values, while adequate enough, do not really enhance the work. It's just not great drama.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the film is seeing young Michael Dennison do a fairly credible job in the sort of role that either James Mason (bound for America) or Stewart Granger would have performed with aplomb back in the early 40's. He plays spoiled Henry Brodrick, son of Lockwood and Price, who re-ignites the tension between the two families after a brief stalemate. Dennison seems to be channelling the Mason we saw in Gainsborough melodramas such as THE MAN IN GREY and FANNY BY GASLIGHT in his venom-spitting scenes. His character is really quite hateful, yet his indulgence in such vices as drinking, gambling, women and even murder provide a bit of spark to the proceedings.
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