|Home from the Hill|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Vincente Minnelli|
|Produced by||Edmund Grainger|
|Screenplay by||Harriet Frank, Jr.|
|Based on||Home from the Hill|
by William Humphrey
|Music by||Bronislau Kaper|
|Cinematography||Milton R. Krasner|
|Edited by||Harold F. Kress|
Home from the Hill is a 1960 American Metrocolor drama film in CinemaScope directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Robert Mitchum, Eleanor Parker, George Peppard, George Hamilton, Everett Sloane, and Luana Patten.
The script was adapted from the 1958 novel of the same name by William Humphrey. The film was entered into the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. The film's title is from the last line of Robert Louis Stevenson's short poem "Requiem". This film was originally intended for actors Clark Gable and Bette Davis, but the roles then went to Robert Mitchum and Eleanor Parker. As of 2018 the film's only surviving credited cast member is George Hamilton.
In the beginning, Captain Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum), the wealthiest and most powerful person in his East Texas town, is wounded by a jealous husband. Wade is a notorious womanizer, who lives with his beautiful wife Hannah (Eleanor Parker) who scorns him. She has raised their son Theron (George Hamilton) to be dependent upon her, but as he reaches adulthood Theron seeks his father's help in becoming a man.
Wade initiates Theron in hunting and other masculine pursuits under the watchful eye of Rafe (George Peppard), Hunnicutt's loyal employee. Theron admires the slightly older and more worldly Rafe, and rapidly develops into a marksman and skilled hunter; he also learns about women from Rafe.
Theron's new lifestyle leads him into a love affair with Libby Halstead (Luana Patten), a local girl from a proper family, but her father, Albert's (Everett Sloane) animosity forces a secret relationship. Theron learns from his mother that the reason for Libby's father's scorn is Wade's reputation as a womanizer. In this conversation he learns things about his parents that were previously hidden from him, including that Rafe is his illegitimate half-brother. We learn that Rafe's mother is the root of Hannah's anger at Wade, although the affair and Rafe's birth preceded Hannah, and that Wade became unfaithful to her after Hannah turned him out. While Wade respects Rafe, his position is staunch that a bastard is not to be included or acknowledged.
Theron becomes disturbed by his parents' dysfunctional relationship and his father's treatment of Rafe. A disillusioned Theron rejects both his parents along with the concept of family, and thus Libby, his true love. Unbeknownst to Theron, Libby is pregnant, but she does not want this to be the reason for their marriage. However, a confused and despondent Libby turns to Rafe, who out of passion and compassion agrees to marry her. This devastates Theron who then realized his error.
All seems resolved until on the day of Libby's newborn son's christening, her father overhears gossip that his daughter was impregnated by Captain Hunnicutt, and goes into a rage. We then see Wade and Hannah reconcile, at home, after seventeen years. After Hannah leaves the room, Wade is then shot down by an unknown murderer who escapes. Theron tracks down his father's killer and sees he is Halstead. Theron kills Halstead in self-defense and soon after Rafe catches up. Though Rafe objects, Theron decides to leave town never to return.
In the end, several months later, Rafe encounters Hannah at Wade's grave. He offers to include her in the life of her grandson, and she shows him that she has acknowledged him as Wade's son on the headstone.
George Hamilton was cast after MGM executives were impressed by his performance in Crime and Punishment U.S.A.. He later said "What Vincente later told me he saw in me was not my tortured soul but that I had the quality of a privileged but sensitive mama's boy."
Hamilton and Peppard were signed to long-term contracts with the studio.
The lead role was intended for Clark Gable.
Husband-and-wife team Harriet Frank, Jr. and Irving Ravetch wrote the script, making some key changes in Humphrey's story to play up the core conflicts. They created the role of Mitchum's illegitimate son and made his wife a still desirable if bitter woman instead of the aging crone from the book. The writers also knew how to capture the cadence of Southern speech and had even written another family drama located in the South, The Long, Hot Summer. Minnelli would later call it "one of the few film scripts in which I didn't change a word."
Despite being set in Clarksville, Texas, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filmed the movie at Oxford, Mississippi, near the University of Mississippi campus. Other locations were in and around Paris, Texas. The homes used in the movie, particularly the interior shots, are in Oxford. The downtown area is Oxford. Some hunting scenes were filmed near Lake Crook, the Paris, TX, water supply. Other scenes, including "Sulfur Bottom," were filmed south of the Cuthand, Texas community in Red River County. Remnants of the steel truss bridge seen in the movie still exist and are near the Sulfur River crossing between Titus and Red River Counties on RR CR 1412 33°23'25.5"N 95°03'44.4"W.
Home from the Hill opened to strong reviews, and by year's end Mitchum would win his only major acting award when the National Board of Review named him Best Actor for his work in Home from the Hill and The Sundowners. Peppard was also named Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Home from the Hill as well.
The film is often recognized as one of the great melodramas directed by Minnelli late in his career.Dave Kehr cited Home from the Hill as a "superb example" of these celebrated melodramas, where "Minnelli's characters don't simply act out their discomfort with the roles they've been thrust into or the relationships they've chosen to endure, but project their feelings onto the visual and aural fabric of the film. Where Minnelli's musicals express emotions through song and dance, his melodramas express feeling through color (of which he was one of the medium's great masters) and set design."
According to MGM records the film earned $3,275,000 in the US and Canada and $1.8 million elsewhere but because of its high production cost incurred a loss of $122,000.