Hot Spell (1958)

Hot Spellhot-spell-poster-2
Directed by Daniel Mann
Written by James Poe from a novel by Lonnie Coleman
First viewing/YouTube

I think every family is dysfunctional, and some manage to control it better than others. Viggo Mortensen

This kitchen sink drama is sort of a Dixie-Fried clone of Come Back, Little Sheba.

Alma Duval (Shirley Booth) is engaged in a futile struggle to keep her family intact.  She is caught in a web of delusion about both her family’s rural past and their present situation in New Orleans.  Her husband Jack (Anthony Quinn) feels trapped by Alma’s forced domesticity and spends as much time away from home as possible, lately with his 19-year-old girl friend.  He’s frustrated with his sons as well.  He feuds with the eldest who wants money to get in business on his own and dismisses the younger, gentler, boy.  He seems to be closest to daughter Virginia (Shirley MacLaine) but wants to run her love life.


Things have gone from bad to worse and Alma’s friend (Eileen Heckart) thinks she needs a total personality overhaul to keep her man.  But Alma can’t be taught to drink, smoke, or toughen up at her age and the time is coming for her to face reality.


The acting just has to be good with this cast.  Booth had her character honed to a fine edge by this time and it is almost painful to watch her cheerful desperation.  Despite that, the story never really clicked with me.  It seemed derivative and dated.

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