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The Naked Hills (1956)

Approved | | Western | 17 June 1956 (USA)
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
... Jimmo McCann
... Julie
... Willis Haver
... Bert Killian / Narrator
... Aggie
Lewis L. Russell ... Baxter (as Lewis Russell)
... Harold
... Pitch Man
Jim Hayward ... Counter Man
... 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

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 June 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Four Seasons  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Pathécolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Wayne (Tracy Powell) and Keenan Wynn (Sam Wilkins) both later played Willard "Digger" Barnes, the father of Pamela Barnes Ewing and Cliff Barnes, in Dallas (1978): Wayne during its first two seasons and Wynn during its third. See more »

Quotes

Tracy Powell: I need a stake, Haver. It's a rich claim, I know it. Ain't expecting you to stake me without getting something in return. I'll pay.
Willis Haver: Tracy, you don't understand, you see... I'm running a bank now. It makes a little difference. It's not just me. There are others in San Francisco I have to account to. I can't invest the depositor's money in a claim without knowing what's in it first.
Tracy Powell: How can I know what I got unless I get the equipment to find out?
Willis Haver: Heh heh... Just a vicious circle, ain't it? Can't...
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Soundtracks

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

Fool's Gold
26 August 2009 | by See all my reviews

The Naked Hills follows the four seasons of one man's life from youth to old age without bothering to worry too much about ageing the character who plays the lead role. David Wayne is our hero, and the only thing that occasionally saves him from blandness is the fact that he is so badly miscast. Hearing other characters call him 'son' and 'boy' when they are quite clearly the same age – or possibly even younger – than him just makes everyone look faintly ridiculous. The fact that Wayne isn't a particularly good or charismatic actor doesn't help either. Watching him struggle through the role you can't help thinking what a better job someone like Alan Ladd would have made of the role.

Wayne plays a young man seduced by the lure of easy riches when gold is struck in the wild and woolly west. He heads there with his best friend, but they soon go their separate ways when, blinded by his desire for wealth, Wayne falls in with bad guy Keenan Wynn. Together they steal a claim from a couple of Mexicans and work it for themselves, only for Wynn to double-cross him when it comes to payday.

Wayne finds himself a good woman and tries to settle down to a life of domesticity, but the call of the gold in them thar hills proves too much for him and it's not long before he's abandoning wife and young son for another attempt with his new best friend Jimmo (a great performance from James Barton). For a while it looks like he has struck lucky, but things soon take a turn for the worse…

The film's main theme – the overriding and destructive desire for wealth portrayed as an addiction – is fairly timeless, I suppose, and it's doubtful that, human nature being what it is, we will ever learn much from cautionary tales such as this. To hammer home the destructive qualities of Wayne's obsession his greed for gold is paralleled with his appetite for booze. To be fair to Wayne he makes a pretty good drunk: he allows his eyes to cross ever so slightly and adopts a vaguely quizzical expression. And while the theme is a righteous one, it's diluted by the fact that the film skips over the early scenes so that we know nothing about Wayne's character before gold fever grips him.

Considering the film is quite clearly made on the cheap, it's entertaining enough, but you won't remember much about it after a week or two.


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