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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 <email@example.com>
The Long Hot Summer is chiefly noted for the fact that Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward made their joint cinematic debut in this film. One of Hollywood's best personal and professional partnerships, Joanne had won a Best Actress Oscar for The Three Faces of Eve the year before and it took Paul thirty more years to match it for their mantelpiece in The Color of Money.
Based on some William Faulkner short stories, The Long Hot Summer commences when Joanne Woodward and Lee Remick, daughter and daughter-in-law of local patriarch Orson Welles give drifter Paul Newman a lift into town. Woodward's a repressed school teacher and Welles despairs of her finding a suitable match.
Because he started dirt poor and worked his way up to the top, Welles takes a liking to Newman and pushes, a little too hard for Newman and Woodward to team up. That's not sitting real well with Anthony Franciosa who is Welles's son and sees Newman displacing him in the family pecking order.
In fact my favorite in the film is Franciosa, he usually is in any film he's in. When he's on the screen, you don't pay attention to anyone else, not even Orson Welles.
Welles borrows a bit from Tennessee Williams's Big Daddy Pollitt from the Paul Newman film the year before, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. His Will Varner though is a bit softer around the edges, also lends itself more easily to caricature. I think the creators of The Dukes of Hazzard used Welles in The Long Hot Summer as their model for Boss Hogg.
In fact it's interesting to see the contrast in The Long Hot Summer and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. It's obvious to me that William Faulkner liked the people of Mississippi a whole lot more than the southerners that are in Tennessee Williams's work.
Almost fifty years later, The Long Hot Summer is still enjoyable viewing and still may be the best of Paul and Joanne's joint ventures.
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