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The Naked Hills (1956)

Passed  -  Adventure | Crime | Romance  -  17 June 1956 (USA)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 61 users  
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Tracy Powell, an Indiana farmer, gets the gold fever and heads for Stockton, California in 1849. There, he abandons his first partner, Bert Killian, and teams up with Sam Wilkins, a claim ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Tracy Powell
...
Sam Wilkins
James Barton ...
Jimmo McCann
Marcia Henderson ...
Julie
...
Willis Haver
...
Bert Killian / Narrator
Myrna Dell ...
Aggie
Lewis L. Russell ...
Baxter (as Lewis Russell)
Frank Fenton ...
Harold
Fuzzy Knight ...
Pitch Man
Jim Hayward ...
Counter Man
Christopher Olsen ...
Billy as a Boy (as Chris Olsen)
Steven Terrell ...
Billy as a Young Man
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Storyline

Tracy Powell, an Indiana farmer, gets the gold fever and heads for Stockton, California in 1849. There, he abandons his first partner, Bert Killian, and teams up with Sam Wilkins, a claim jumper employed by Willis Haver. Six years later, Powell returns to Indiana and his sweetheart, Julie. They marry and he tries farming again but, on the night their son is born, he takes off again searching for gold. This time he heads for the hills with an inveterate prospector, Jimmo McCann. A decade later, the two are still hunting for their big strike when McCann is killed in an accident. Powell returns home with news of a big strike but the deserted Julie will have nothing to do with him. His friend Killian will not believe him but Haver, now a banker gives him a small loan and then beats him out of his claim. Many years pass before he comes home, now sixty-years-old, and this time, his wife and son open their home to him. But he vows to go prospecting come next spring. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 June 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alastomat vuoret  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Pathécolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Soundtracks

The Four Seasons
Music by Herschel Burke Gilbert
Lyrics by Bob Russell
Sung by James Barton
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User Reviews

 
No Midas Touch for David Wayne
11 May 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Allied Artists the former Monogram Pictures of the Bowery Boys and the Bomba the Jungle Boy series occasionally did a film that had a certain amount of class despite the lack of budget. The Naked Hills is a western that starts in the California Gold Rush days about a man who has the gold fever real bad, maybe worse than Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre.

The lack of really big box office names in The Naked Hills makes it all the more real. David Wayne stars in this film as a man seized with the gold fever who is demon possessed with the idea of making that big strike, so much so that he abandons his wife Marcia Henderson and infant son who grows up to be Chris Olsen and later Steve Terrell.

There was a great line in The Oklahoma Kid where James Cagney opines that the strong take it away from the weak and the smart take it away from the strong. The strong here is Keenan Wynn, a claim jumper of no particular redeeming features and the smart is a crafty Jim Backus. You can almost see him as Thurston Howell the first. Could be that what we see here is how the Howell fortune was obtained and the bloodline kind of thinned over several generations until he and the Mrs. got caught up in that three hour tour.

Next to Wayne, Backus is who you will remember best from this film and this might be his best dramatic performance. For those of you who remember Mr. Magoo, Judge Bradley Stevens, and Thurston Howell and some other goofy comic parts this is the most serious film role Backus ever essayed. Even better than his part as James Dean's father in Rebel Without A Cause.

Narrating this story of Wayne's useless life is Denver Pyle who comes west with Wayne, makes a small stake and then starts a dry goods business. He is carrying a torch the Statue Of Liberty couldn't hold for Marcia Henderson. In many ways he's the most touching character in the film. And James Barton who originated the part of a hard rock miner starring in Paint Your Wagon on Broadway essentially takes that character over to The Naked Hills. Watch in the end how Wayne's character has morphed into Barton.

Most moving scene in the film is Wayne trying to nurse his dying mule back to health. He's so cut himself off from the world that the only living thing he has any relationship with is that pack animal. It's some of the best acting David Wayne did in his whole career.

Probably a large budget would not necessarily have helped The Naked Hills. But a solid cast and a wonderful story put this memorable film over. It will linger with you long after you've seen it.


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