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Hot Spell (1958)

Unrated | | Drama | June 1958 (USA)
A housewife is doing her best to keep her family together as it's slowly falling apart, a fact she's trying to ignore. Her cheating husband's birthday party is approaching and many lines will be crossed after that event.


Daniel Mann, George Cukor (uncredited)


Lonnie Coleman (novel), James Poe
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Shirley Booth ... Alma Duval
Anthony Quinn ... John Henry Duval
Shirley MacLaine ... Virginia Duval
Earl Holliman ... John Henry 'Buddy' Duval Jr.
Eileen Heckart ... Alma's Friend
Clint Kimbrough Clint Kimbrough ... Billy Duval
Warren Stevens ... Wyatt Mitchell - Virginia's Boyfriend
Jody Lawrance ... Dora May
Harlan Warde ... Harry
Valerie Allen ... Ruby


A housewife is doing her best to keep her family together as it's slowly falling apart, a fact she's trying to ignore. Her cheating husband's birthday party is approaching and many lines will be crossed after that event.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Unrated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

June 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Next of Kin See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Wallis-Hazen See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Producer Hal B. Wallis purchased the rights to Lonnie Coleman's unproduced play in June 1956. See more »


Alma takes a present to their son Buddy to bring home for his Poppa, and is carrying no other packages. But later, when she takes gifts to Billy and Virginia she is still carrying the gift she apparently left with Buddy. See more »


Featured in Valentine's Day (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Shirley Booth and Shirley MacLaine, Together Again
12 July 2010 | by drednmSee all my reviews

HOT SPELL is a 50s family drama that seems rather tame now, but in 1958 this was hot stuff. Adapted from a novel by Lonnie Coleman and directed by Daniel Mann, this film offers terrific performances from nearly all involved.

Mann, who also directed Shirley Booth in both COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA and ABOUT MRS. LESLIE, gets a top-notch performance from his star once again. At age 60, Booth here plays a mid-40s housewife with touches of Lola from SHEBA and also Amanda Wingfield from THE GLASS MENAGERIE (which Booth starred in on TV in 1966). Her Alma here is a rather lost lady who clings to the "good old days and places" just as Carrie Watts does in THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL. She also tries to cling to her philandering husband (a vicious Anthony Quinn) and her grown-up children (Earl Holliman, Shirley MacLaine, and Clint Kimbrough). Alma still thinks that a chocolate cake and a "family supper" will bring everyone together, but everyone has already left the premises.

MacLaine plays the vulnerable daughter who is trying to snag a medical student and makes the mistake of not seeing his true motives. Holliman is the older son trying to find his way as a man, but he's constantly squashed by the brutish Quinn. Kimbrough, in the only bad performance, is the geeky younger son who just wants to be noticed. Alma's only outside connection seems to be a married friend, superbly played by Eileen Heckart.

So during a New Orleans "hot spell," the family suffers through one last series of family feuds based on lies and desire and the wanting to be away. Everyone clashes with the others' plans and nothing turns out right. Through it all Booth's Alma holds fast to the idea that if they could only escape the city and its heat and go back to some town where they were happy 20 years before that everything would be right.

There's a great scene where Heckart tries to teach Booth to be more "sophisticated" by learning to drink and smoke. And Booth has another terrific scene, a lesson in acting, where she sits on the front porch and tries to dissect her own life and where it's all gone wrong. Then tragedy strikes.

In the end, once the family ends up in that little country town, Booth realizes that you can't go home again and that her yearning for the old days has been wrong. With her grown children around her, she bravely marches toward the train that will take her back to the steaming city and the rest of her life.

Shirley Booth had a long and stellar career on the Broadway stage. Most of her stage roles went to other actresses when movie versions were made. Booth made only 4 films in the 1950s. THE MATCHMAKER was also released in 1958. In the 60s she turned to TV and had a smash hit in HAZEL, the role she is best remembered for. Yet the 4 films she starred in are a showcase for her dramatic and comedic talents.

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