Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Long Hot Summer (1956) Review














Faulkner books at times are very difficult to understand; but they are books worth the effort. The books stay with you and shape your understanding of people like ghosts from a haunted time. His books carry the hot muggy atmosphere of the South; at least the south in my imagination.

Ben Quick arrives in Frenchman's Bend, Mississippi after being kicked out of another town for allegedly burning a barn for revenge. Quick is all the gossip! So he sets out towards anywhere but here and finds himself picked up in Frenchmen's Bend a quite hamlet in Mississippi, and finds himself helped out by the Varner Clan.

The Varner family owns everything in Frenchman's Bend. Will Varner the patriarch wants a heritage left for him. He spots potential in Ben Quick. He hires Ben to work in his store. 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 and Frenchmen's Bend.

The Long Hot Summer is a delight. The movie is  a smooth adaptation of six of Faulkner's stories (including the  Hamlet)by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. Scenery  (directed by Joseph LaShelle) is true to the earthy, muggy Southern latitudes.


 Summer time and the living is easy; the banter between Paul Newman and his future wife Joanne Woodward is genuine and a beauty to watch. They match wits like good old sparring partners. 
ORson Welles provides a strong center to the dramatic action.   He is the glue that holds this piece together.  


The music score by Alex North adds a great depth to the dramatic  action.   North conducted other great scores for movies such as, Wise Blood, Spartacus, and the Rose Tattoo.  


One weakness in the movie is that the Southern accents betray the Northern Actors. Too bad they didn't get Southern Boys and girls to play the parts, it would have been better. The girls will love the scenes where Paul Newman does not wear a shirt.

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