Home from the Hill
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Written by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch from a novel by William Humphrey
Sol C. Siegel Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental
1960 has been heavy on dysfunctional family melodramas. They are wearing out their welcome with me. Which is to say I might have liked this more on another day.
Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum) is the leading light in his little corner of the American South. He is also a notorious womanizer, concentrating principally on other men’s wives. As the story begins, Wade is out game hunting and is wounded by a jealous husband. Wade’s behavior has also meant estrangement from his wife Hannah (Eleanor Parker). Hannah long ago agreed to continue to share a house with Wade, only on condition that their only son Theron (George Hamilton) would be “hers”.
Theron has grown to be a shy and sensitive young man and Wade renegs on his agreement. He thinks that dangerous wild boar hunting will make a man of his son. He sends out Theron under the tutelage of his rough and ready illegitimate son Rafe (George Peppard). Wade has never really acknowledged his paternity though the whole town knows it.
As Theron mans up, he casts his eye on pretty Libby Halsted. He sends Rafe to ask her to a party and she agrees. When Theron shows up to take her, though, her father (Everette Sloan) erupts in a blind rage and forbids Theron to see his daughter or even enter his door. Later Libby begins to see Theron on the sly and they become lovers.
I will stop my plot summary here but suffice it to say that all of this sets up many heated, dramatic arguments among the various family members and a climactic tragedy.
I never really cared about the fates of anyone in this movie. One of the problems was that both Hamilton and Peppard are pretty bland. Another is the cliched dialogue and situations. Real people just don’t behave like this.