Der lange heiße Sommer (1958)

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Der lange heiße Sommer: Directed by Martin Ritt. With Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, Orson Welles. Accused barn burner and conman Ben Quick (Paul Newman) arrives in a small Mississippi town and quickly ingratiates himself with its richest family, the Varners.

“This southern, William Faulkner tale relies heavily on so many south of the Mason-Dixon line clichés and atmospherics that one almost has to laugh out loud at most of them. Yet it is still enjoyable to watch Orson Wells as Will Varner, the perspiring, cigar chomping Mississippi kingpin desperate to have a grandson before he dies–at whatever the cost. Wells blusters and bulls his way through the entire movie disgusted with his wimpish son Jody played convincingly by Tony Franciosa. Varner watches disconsolately as Jody spends his time chasing his wife Lee Remick around the house instead of settling down and making babies and taking control of his marriage. Lee Remick, for all her talents, is little more than a sexpot curio for Franciosa. As for Joann Woodward, Varneru0026#39;s unmarried, strong-willed daughter Clara, she is determined not to settle for second-best with long-time beau Richard Anderson whou0026#39;s wealthy, available, and a MaMau0026#39;s boy. Both of Varneru0026#39;s offspring are grave disappointments to the wealthy patriarch who knows time is running out on him as his two childless children waste their days on the Mississippi plantation.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eLONG HOT SUMMER is actually based on a classic Faulkner short story, BARN BURNING, the tale of a pyromaniac whose son runs off and gets blamed for setting fires in other towns. Newman is excellent as Ben Quick, the drifter who stumbles into the Will Varner universe and stays there once he gets a load of Joann Woodward. And Angela Landsbury as Varneru0026#39;s companion, Minnie? It is possibly Landsburyu0026#39;s most wooden role since her forgettable 1940u0026#39;s musical days. She pales without substance under the colossal Orson Wells sun. For Wells mushrooms larger than life in every scene heu0026#39;s in latching on to Newman as a viable candidate for his daughter whou0026#39;ll give him a grandson. The younger Varner explodes in fury and jealousy and tries to kill his father and frame Ben Quick–before coming to his senses.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOne of the best scenes in the movie is when Newman convinces Franciosa that a treasure is hidden on the plantation. Franciosa, overcome with excitement that it might just be the trick to secure his fatheru0026#39;s approval, digs furiously six feet down, finds a bag of old coins, and rushes them to Varner only to have his father laugh in his face and tell him they are worthless old pieces of foolu0026#39;s gold. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAlways a pleasure to watch Newman and Woodward together, LONG HOT SUMMER was supposedly the first movie the couple made after they were married. Which they still are—a Hollywood novelty for sure. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eTrivia: LONG HOT SUMMER contains many filmed errors that made the final cut. Some of Orson Wellsu0026#39; scenes are hilarious to watch for the great actoru0026#39;s robust, absolutely incomprehensible southern drawl. Watch, listen carefully, and youu0026#39;ll roar!u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDennis Caracciolo”


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