The Long, Hot Summer [1958]

29Dec11 – 7 – The Long, Hot Summer (Martin Ritt: 1958)

THE LONG, HOT SUMMER features what has to be one of the most abrupt and ridiculous character reversals that’s not meant for comic effect in all of film history, but the movie needed a happy ending so why not? The chemistry between Paul Newman (at the height of his good looks, which is saying plenty) and Joanne Woodward is palpable and while both give excellent performances, it’s Newman who really shines. Lee Remick always looked too intelligent for the airhead sex kitten part

s she played at the beginning of her career, but she’s fine; Anthony Franciosa struck me as 2D as ever, Richard Anderson is good as the sissy “suitor”, Sarah Marshall (as Woodward’s character’s friend Agnes) is excellent. Angela Lansbury plays someone’s idea of a comic relief whore, but it’s certainly not my idea and she does it badly. And then there’s Orson Welles. He’s as heavily made up as Jolson in THE JAZZ SINGER, his “Southern” drawl/mumble/whatever-it-is renders most of what he says incomprehensible, and he just doesn’t mesh with the other actors or the tone of the movie as a whole. Beautiful cinematography and Martin Ritt keeps things moving along at a steady but easy clip. The fictional town of Frenchman’s Bend, Mississippi, and its surroundings look exactly like Chickamauga, Georgia, and its surroundings, only nicer. 7/10. [12/29/11]
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