LongHotSummerI happened upon The Long Hot Summer one evening and decided to go ahead and watch it. This movie has been near the bottom of my “must watch when I have time” list but only because there are so many others that I also want to watch. Either way, I am glad I did sit down and give this one a chance.

The Long Hot Summer starrs Paul Newman as Ben Quick, a man accused of arsony and chased out of town, and Joanne Woodward as Clara Varner, the unmarried daughter of the richest family in town.

Orson Welles also starrs in this movie as Will Varner, the patriarch of the Varner family. Welles is fantastic in this movie and his character is just crotchety enough to be believable. Angela Lansbury plays Varner’s female friend in the town who is constantly after Varner to finally marry her.

After Ben wanders to the Varner place in search of a job, Varner aggrees. But he has the intention of getting Clara to marry Ben and stop being the town’s old maid schoolteacher. Varner’s son Jody (Tony Franciosa) is married but with no ambition in life. Varner is anxious to see his grandchildren before he dies and is willing to manipulate whomever he can to get his way. He thinks Ben has drive and would be a right fit for the family.

Clara of course has no interest in Ben at first. She is somewhat interested in Alan Stewart (Richard Anderson) and thinks Ben is too common. But Stewart is still tied to his widowed mother and will not make a committment to Clara.

Throughout the movie Jody starts to resent Ben for undermining his position in the family business, which is pretty much owning the entire town. The stress gets to him and he sets a barn on fire that almost kills his father. When the townspeople see the smoke, they automatically think that is it Ben who set the fire. They try to come after him but Varner saves him by saying that he set the fire with his cigar.

Much to Daddy Varner’s delight, Clara does fall in love with Ben in the end and does not let him leave when he wants to move on to the next town.

The plot of this movie was simple but the emotions portrayed were great. Welles’ portrayal of Varner reminded me much of my old grandfather with his deep South accent and gravelly smoker’s voice.

Newman and Woodward have definite chemistry throughout and were great choices for these roles. The secondary characters were also well cast.

I love old trailers and their giant headlines and announcer voices:

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