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Ben Quick arrives in Frenchman's Bend, MS after being kicked out of another town for allegedly burning a barn for revenge. Will Varner owns just about everything in Frenchman's Bend and he hires Ben to work in his store. Will thinks his own son, Jody, who manages the store, lacks ambition and despairs of him getting his wife, Eula, pregnant. Will thinks his daughter, Clara, a schoolteacher, will never get married. He decides that Ben Quick might make a good husband for Clara to bring some new blood into the family. Written by
Lisa Grable <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Paul Newman stars with Joanne Woodward, Orson Welles, Lee Remick, Anthony Franciosca, Richard Anderson and Angela Lansbury in "The Long, Hot Summer," based on stories by William Faulkner. It's a lushly produced film about a drifter, Ben Quick (Newman), who comes to town. His reputation precedes him, and he soon upsets the status quo in the wealthy Varner family, headed by Orson Welles with a fake nose that kept melting off and an even faker southern accent. There's the weak, insecure son (Franciosa) married to a sex kitten (Remick) and an unmarried daughter (Woodward) saving herself for a momma's boy (Anderson). In town, there's also Varner Sr.'s mistress, played by Angela Lansbury. Ben sets his sights on Clara Varner and puts himself in direct competition with nervous son Jody for papa's approval. But Quick ultimately needs to reach underneath his swagger and bravura and confront his cut and run philosophy.
This is a fantastic cast that delivers sparkling dialogue and an interesting story that has mostly well-drawn characters. The exception would probably be Remick, who has a small but showy role. She doesn't get to do much except show off her figure and sexiness. Welles is a riot - a marvelous technician, he knew how to externalize a character perfectly, and he is here the epitome of a Big Daddy type. His southern drawl is outrageous, and why he decided he needed a new nose (which he had in other roles as well) is beyond me. Woodward gives a touching performance as a young woman who has been living on hope and can't quite cope with her attraction to the overtly sexual Quick. Franciosa is excellent as a tortured young man unable to win his father's love.
But as any film that stars Paul Newman, the movie belongs to him, one of the greatest actors to ever hit the screen. Macho, sexy and handsome, his Ben Quick is angry, determined, manipulative, and disturbing, with a hidden vulnerability. His scenes with Woodward sizzle, and you can see her character blossom under his attention. They're a great couple, both on and off the screen.
Highly recommended, as is any film that stars Paul Newman.
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