Tim Murphy is a Vietnam Vet. When he loses his job he starts to relive all the pain and horror of his time in Vietnam. The stresses and strains nearly destroy his marriage and his family. ... See full summary »
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Penelope Ann Miller,
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When the drifter Harry Madox reaches a small town in Texas, he gets a job as used car salesman with the dealer George Harshaw and settles down in a hotel room. During a fire, Harry observes... See full summary »
Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of destruction through the South during the Civil War, but is continually sidetracked by ... See full summary »
Ross McElwee Jr.
Jessica, a young British girl, goes off to Arabia with her father to be with her fiancé when he's called there suddenly on diplomatic duty. On a tourist journey she's kidnapped by what ... See full summary »
Three young friends decide to share a house together in London over the summer. But as the outside world infiltrates their happy home, truths are revealed, tensions rise and their ... See full summary »
Not without flaws, but Don Johnson isn't one of them
I recently re-discovered this movie after not having seen it since the original airing on TV. I was in my early 20s back in 1985, and thought like many other women that Don Johnson was the sexiest man alive (he was indisputably the most popular actor in America, on one of the most popular TV shows), so it's interesting to watch the movie 23 years removed and with a fresh perspective. One of the first things that surprised me is that once you get past the sheer gorgeousness of the man (and he really was breathtaking - one of those rare few people for whom there were no bad camera angles), Don Johnson is in fact a very good and smart actor with quite a wide emotional range (for an excellent example, watch the scene where Noel and Ben are sharing the box lunch).
Another surprise was the depth of the love scene between Ben and Noel. Anyone who ever adored Don Johnson knows that the man knew how to play a love scene like few others, and play it appropriately to the material. He could be hotter than hot but still tender, or loving and gentle but still hot. I remember being disappointed in the love scene initially, but looking at it now as an adult, I see how young and silly I was. As other posters have suggested, it manages to be a very intense, tender, sexy, emotional, and revealing few minutes without really showing anything at all. That's due entirely to the abilities of both Don, who clearly understood exactly the effect of every look, gesture, touch and kiss in that scene, and the always wonderful Judith Ivey's portrayal of Noel as a capable, strong, and intelligent grown woman whose lukewarm kisses with the milquetoasty (gay?) Alan have in no way prepared her for Ben's confident and relentless heat. The levels of fear, shock, desire and surrender that cross her face in those few short minutes are testament to her talent.
So once you get past all the heat that Don Johnson generates (it does get to be amusing how frequently he was directed to take his shirt off, but funny in a GOOD way, if you know what I mean), all the other leads are very well cast and turn in great performances. I agree that Jason Robards doesn't quite equal Orson Welles' over-the-topness in the original, but who would? He nevertheless manages no small amount of bluster and rage as the small-town-rich family patriarch. I thought Cybill Shepherd (also one of the most popular actors in America at the time) was a perfect choice for the restless, sexy, spoiled and eternally unsatisfied Eula, as was William Russ (who coincidentally starred in a very highly rated "Miami Vice" episode that same season) for the tortured and complex Jody Varner.
The movie is not without flaws; you can see the plot coming a mile away, and the crowd scenes contain some laughably bad acting and dialogue. The 1980s were sort of the "golden age" of the miniseries, and "The Long Hot Summer managed to be a worthy entry in a crowded field, an enjoyable slice of small-town Southern life, considerably improved by the megawatt star power of its cast.
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