Home from the Hill


2h 30m 1960
Home from the Hill

Brief Synopsis

A southern landowner's family is torn apart by the revelation that he has an illegitimate son.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1960
Premiere Information
New York opening: 3 Mar 1960
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Clarksville, Texas, United States; Oxford, Mississippi, United States; Paris--Sulphur Flats, Texas, United States; Texas, United States; Mississippi, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Home from the Hill by William Humphrey (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 30m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
13,482ft

Synopsis

While goose hunting one day in Texas, wealthy landowner Capt. Wade Hunnicutt's right-hand man, Raphael "Rafe" Copley, pushes Wade out of harm's way when young John Ellis tries to shoot Wade for sleeping with his wife. Later, while Dr. Reuben Carson tends Wade's superficial wounds, he advises the middle-aged man to quit his violent hunting and womanizing. As good-natured Rafe drives him home, Wade indifferently reminds him that he has already expressed his gratitude by providing Rafe with a job and shelter. When Wade arrives at his mansion, his wife Hannah coldly tells him that someone will kill him for his adultery and forbids Wade from telling their 17-year-old son, Theron, the real reason for the incident.

One night, Hugh, Dick and other townsmen are whittling on the square when they decide to entice the inexperienced but eager Theron into a phony snipe hunt as a joke. When Wade finds Theron abandoned at a nearby pond, he tells the humiliated boy that as heir to the Hunnicutt's fortune, Theron must become a man whom the citizens respect and fear. That night when Wade allows the boy to shoot a gun into the fireplace as practice, Hannah reminds her husband that she agreed to stay with him as long she was able to raise Theron as she saw fit and forbade him to hunt. Wade insists that Theron must now become a man, but Hannah warns him that their son has a mind of his own.

Over the next few months, with Rafe's generous help, Theron learns to track and shoot and grows addicted to the sport. When he comes home late from hunting one night, his father confronts him about skipping school to hunt, but Hannah announces that she has told the school that Theron will not return in attempt to win her son's affection again. Days later, several of Wade's tenants complain that a vicious wild boar is killing their livestock and ask that the landowner kill the beast. Wade assigns Theron to the task and on the morning of the hunt sends Rafe to accompany Theron despite his son's protests that the town will only applaud his efforts if he goes alone. Out in the vine-strewn wilderness, Wade's hunting hounds lead the men to the boar's tracks. When the boar savagely kills one dog and exhausts the others, the men camp for the night. Early the next morning, Wade arrives at the campsite with a group of hunters to find Theron missing. In the distance, Theron finds the beast near the edge of the foggy Sulphur Bottoms.

At first paralyzed with fear, Theron finally takes careful aim and kills the boar. Led by the sound of the shot, Wade, Rafe and the hunters find Theron, who is thrilled by killing and his father's acceptance. Days later, Theron, who is shy around girls, asks Rafe to invite Libby Halstead to the party celebrating the kill on his behalf. She accepts, but when Theron goes to pick Libby up, her father Albert refuses to let Wade's son date his daughter and slams the door on him. Back at the party, Wade reminisces with Hannah about their early romance in an effort to win her affections but she rebuffs him. He reminds her that he sought the company of other women because she became "frigid" toward him. Days later, when Libby comes to the Hunnicutt house to apologize for her father's bad behavior, an awkward Theron professes his love for her.

One day, during a community cemetery cleaning, Hannah finds Rafe cleaning a grave in the reprobate's field. When he explains that it is the grave of his mother, Ann Copley, who died when he was a child, Hannah says she remembers Ann. Meanwhile, Theron and Libby are picnicking nearby and their amorous embrace turns into lovemaking. When Theron arrives home in the early morning hours, Hannah lectures him about keeping a girl out past a respectable hour and asks that Libby come to the house for dinner instead. Theron explains that her father will not permit her to come and recounts his rejection on the eve of the party. Hannah then shamefully explains to Theron that the town believes he has inherited his father's philandering tendencies. Shocked by the truth, Theron bitterly suggests that his mother's cold treatment might be to blame, but Hannah tells him that early in their marriage she discovered that Rafe was the product of Wade's affair with Ann. The next day when Theron confronts his father, Wade refuses to acknowledge Rafe as worthy of his attention, causing Theron to renounce the Hunnicutt fortune and take a job at the cotton mill.

Soon after, Theron goes to Rafe's modest cabin and offers him his meager savings as an acknowledgment of Rafe's true heritage. Rafe is grateful and recounts how, as an orphaned child, he longed for his father to shower attention upon him. Days later, when Rafe finds a bedraggled Wade suffering from a three-day drinking binge, the latter offers Rafe his respect, but his son asks for more. Soon after, Hannah, traumatized by her son's departure, falls seriously ill, prompting Carson to order Theron to move back into the house to care for her. After six weeks of silence from Theron, Libby confronts him and finds that Theron, having lived with a bitter and resentful couple all his life, is too scared to start a family of his own. One night, when a nervous Albert visits Wade to suggest that Theron might be a suitable husband for Libby, Wade suspects Libby is pregnant and confronts Albert about his attempt to fix a "shotgun wedding." Humbled by the truth, Albert leaves the house in shame.

Soon after, Libby blatantly flirts with Rafe at the grocery store. When he questions her about Theron, Libby tearfully admits that she is carrying Theron's child, but will not force him to marry her. Rafe then gladly offers to marry her, explaining that he cares for her and wants the child to have a home and a father. The couple is wed soon after and has a baby boy. After the christening ceremony, Albert overhears Dick, Hugh and others gossiping that Wade fathered Libby's child, causing Albert to seethe with rage. Back at the Hunnicutt house, Wade and Hannah discuss Theron's deepening depression and agree that they must mend their relationship if Theron is to survive. After Hannah leaves the den, Wade remains behind to contemplate a new beginning with his wife. Suddenly an enraged Albert sneaks into the room, shoots Wade and flees in Wade's truck.

Hearing the gunfire, Theron rushes into the den, where Wade calls out for Rafe. As Theron runs to fetch Rafe, servant Chauncey tries to keep his employer alive. When Rafe arrives at the house, he begs Wade to call him "my son," but Wade dies without uttering a word. Both Rafe and Theron run to the nearest vehicle to pursue the killer, but Theron knocks Rafe down and speeds off, finding the abandoned truck near the Sulphur Bottoms, where he tracks Albert down and shoots him. When Rafe finds Theron beside the dead man, he suggests that he and Theron return home, but Theron walks away, claiming that he must leave town and make it on his own, much like Rafe had done when Wade abandoned him. Weeks later, Rafe seeks out Hannah at the cemetery, where she thanks him for visiting her while she lay bedridden with grief over Wade's death and Theron's disappearance. When Rafe suggests that she visit the baby and acknowledges that the child is Theron's, she eagerly agrees and then shows Rafe the inscription for Wade's headstone, "beloved father of Raphael and Theron."

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1960
Premiere Information
New York opening: 3 Mar 1960
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Clarksville, Texas, United States; Oxford, Mississippi, United States; Paris--Sulphur Flats, Texas, United States; Texas, United States; Mississippi, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Home from the Hill by William Humphrey (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 30m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
13,482ft

Articles

Home From the Hill


"It's my right to cross any man's fence when I'm hunting."
-- Robert Mitchum, Home from the Hill

Robert Mitchum made an early transition to character roles when he starred in Home from the Hill, a high-pitched 1960 melodrama from director Vincente Minnelli. It hardly marked the end of his days as a leading man -- he still played a rebellious trouble-maker, only this time as a powerful Texas landowner -- but for the first time on screen he would have two grown sons, played by newcomers George Hamilton and George Peppard in roles that marked them both for stardom.

MGM had picked up the rights to William Humphrey's debut novel as a vehicle for Clark Gable, but when the King proved unavailable, they seized on Mitchum as an inspired second choice. The star had just bought a farm in Maryland and was happy to spend his winter shooting in the warmer climes of Hollywood, Mississippi and Texas. He was a bit surprised, however, to find that Minnelli, best known for such sophisticated musicals as An American in Paris (1951) and Gigi (1958), had been assigned to the film. When they arrived at the film's location in Humphrey's hometown of Paris, Texas, Mitchum even quipped to the press that "Minnelli shoots all his pictures in Paris."

But though Minnelli was still best-known at the time for his musicals, Home from the Hill represents another genre in which he would win critical acclaim, particularly in later years -- the melodrama. Like his first picture with Mitchum, Undercurrent (1946), and Some Came Running (1958), the film demonstrated his ability to mine the emotional resonance in tales of tangled family lives. The saga of Capt. Wade Hunnicutt (Mitchum), who finds himself drawn to an unacknowledged illegitimate son (Peppard) after years of estrangement from his wife (Eleanor Parker) and their child (Hamilton), provided him another opportunity for depicting repressed passions that burst forth in often startling acts of violence and betrayal.

Helping greatly with this was the script by husband-and-wife team Harriet Frank, Jr. and Irving Ravetch. The two had already scored a hit with another tale of twisted family life in the South, The Long, Hot Summer (1958), and had a special talent for capturing the cadence of Southern speech. They also made some astute changes in Humphrey's original story -- creating the role of Mitchum's illegitimate son and making his wife a still desirable if bitter woman instead of the aging crone from the book -- that played up the story's conflicts. Minnelli would later call it "One of the few film scripts in which I didn't change a word."

Location shooting started in another landmark of the literary South, William Faulkner's home base in Oxford, Mississippi. From the start, the two younger actors were star struck in Mitchum's presence and turned to him for advice. Peppard, who had studied at the Actor's Studio in New York, was rather shocked, however, when he asked Mitchum if he had studied the Stanislavsky Method, and the star replied, "No, but I've studied the Smirnoff Method." Peppard's highly emotional approach to his work created problems on the first day of shooting. When he couldn't muster the appropriate emotional reaction for a cemetery scene, claiming he needed more time, the actor was told by Minnelli that they were losing the light, and he would have to deliver fast. Peppard told Mitchum he was going to walk off the production, only to have Mitchum warn him, "It'll be a very expensive hike. I'm sure the studio can sue you. I'm certain it will be your last job. Even though you think Minnelli is wrong, do it his way."

Once the production moved back to Hollywood, where electricians rather than nature controlled the light, Peppard had the luxury of more time to prepare for his on-camera performance. He also learned that Minnelli had a few things to teach him about acting. When he complained that his lines in the scene in which he and Hamilton compare notes on their childhood were too self-pitying, Minnelli advised that he play them in a simple straightforward manner. It was one of his most effective scenes in the film.

One of the film's highlights was the hunt for a wild boar during which Hamilton's character tries to prove himself as manly as his father. The scene was actually shot in two different locations, with two different animals. The chase itself was filmed in the sulfurous swamps outside Paris, but because of budget problems, the production had to move back to Hollywood for the hunt's grand finale. Minnelli had the original boar flown in from Texas, only to find it dead the morning of shooting. The wild creature actually had a delicate constitution and had died from the shock of being transported. Instead, they had to use a large pig with tusks attached. Minnelli skillfully shot around him for the first part of the scene, in which the boar holds off Hamilton's hunting dogs. He only showed it at the end, when a healthy dose of tranquilizers created the illusion that Hamilton had killed the beast.

Home from the Hill opened to strong reviews, even winning a slot at the Cannes Film Festival. But although critics praised Mitchum's work, most of the initial reviews said Peppard overshadowed him in what would turn out to be the best performance of the young actor's career. At year's end, however, the film, along with the The Sundowners (also 1960), would become the only one to win Mitchum a major acting award. He was named Best Actor by the National Board of Review (one of the industry's oldest awards-granting organizations), with Peppard receiving their Best Supporting Actor nod. Sadly, neither would receive an Oscar® nomination. In Mitchum's case, it's possible the voters couldn't choose between his two strong performances that year.

Producer: Edmund Grainger, Sol C. Siegel
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Screenplay: Irving Ravetch& Harriet Frank, Jr.
Based on the novel by William Humphrey
Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner
Art Direction: Preston Ames, George W. Davis
Music: Bronislau Kaper
Principal Cast: Robert Mitchum (Capt. Wade Hunnicutt), Eleanor Parker (Hannah Hunnicutt), George Peppard (Raphael "Rafe" Copley), George Hamilton (Theron Hunnicutt), Everett Sloane (Albert Halstead), Luana Patten (Elizabeth "Libby" Halstead), Anne Seymour (Sarah Halstead), Constance Ford (Opal Bixby), Denver Pyle (Mr. Bradley), Dub Taylor (Bob Skaggs), Guinn "Big Boy" Williams (Hugh Macauley).
C-150m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Frank Miller
Home From The Hill

Home From the Hill

"It's my right to cross any man's fence when I'm hunting." -- Robert Mitchum, Home from the Hill Robert Mitchum made an early transition to character roles when he starred in Home from the Hill, a high-pitched 1960 melodrama from director Vincente Minnelli. It hardly marked the end of his days as a leading man -- he still played a rebellious trouble-maker, only this time as a powerful Texas landowner -- but for the first time on screen he would have two grown sons, played by newcomers George Hamilton and George Peppard in roles that marked them both for stardom. MGM had picked up the rights to William Humphrey's debut novel as a vehicle for Clark Gable, but when the King proved unavailable, they seized on Mitchum as an inspired second choice. The star had just bought a farm in Maryland and was happy to spend his winter shooting in the warmer climes of Hollywood, Mississippi and Texas. He was a bit surprised, however, to find that Minnelli, best known for such sophisticated musicals as An American in Paris (1951) and Gigi (1958), had been assigned to the film. When they arrived at the film's location in Humphrey's hometown of Paris, Texas, Mitchum even quipped to the press that "Minnelli shoots all his pictures in Paris." But though Minnelli was still best-known at the time for his musicals, Home from the Hill represents another genre in which he would win critical acclaim, particularly in later years -- the melodrama. Like his first picture with Mitchum, Undercurrent (1946), and Some Came Running (1958), the film demonstrated his ability to mine the emotional resonance in tales of tangled family lives. The saga of Capt. Wade Hunnicutt (Mitchum), who finds himself drawn to an unacknowledged illegitimate son (Peppard) after years of estrangement from his wife (Eleanor Parker) and their child (Hamilton), provided him another opportunity for depicting repressed passions that burst forth in often startling acts of violence and betrayal. Helping greatly with this was the script by husband-and-wife team Harriet Frank, Jr. and Irving Ravetch. The two had already scored a hit with another tale of twisted family life in the South, The Long, Hot Summer (1958), and had a special talent for capturing the cadence of Southern speech. They also made some astute changes in Humphrey's original story -- creating the role of Mitchum's illegitimate son and making his wife a still desirable if bitter woman instead of the aging crone from the book -- that played up the story's conflicts. Minnelli would later call it "One of the few film scripts in which I didn't change a word." Location shooting started in another landmark of the literary South, William Faulkner's home base in Oxford, Mississippi. From the start, the two younger actors were star struck in Mitchum's presence and turned to him for advice. Peppard, who had studied at the Actor's Studio in New York, was rather shocked, however, when he asked Mitchum if he had studied the Stanislavsky Method, and the star replied, "No, but I've studied the Smirnoff Method." Peppard's highly emotional approach to his work created problems on the first day of shooting. When he couldn't muster the appropriate emotional reaction for a cemetery scene, claiming he needed more time, the actor was told by Minnelli that they were losing the light, and he would have to deliver fast. Peppard told Mitchum he was going to walk off the production, only to have Mitchum warn him, "It'll be a very expensive hike. I'm sure the studio can sue you. I'm certain it will be your last job. Even though you think Minnelli is wrong, do it his way." Once the production moved back to Hollywood, where electricians rather than nature controlled the light, Peppard had the luxury of more time to prepare for his on-camera performance. He also learned that Minnelli had a few things to teach him about acting. When he complained that his lines in the scene in which he and Hamilton compare notes on their childhood were too self-pitying, Minnelli advised that he play them in a simple straightforward manner. It was one of his most effective scenes in the film. One of the film's highlights was the hunt for a wild boar during which Hamilton's character tries to prove himself as manly as his father. The scene was actually shot in two different locations, with two different animals. The chase itself was filmed in the sulfurous swamps outside Paris, but because of budget problems, the production had to move back to Hollywood for the hunt's grand finale. Minnelli had the original boar flown in from Texas, only to find it dead the morning of shooting. The wild creature actually had a delicate constitution and had died from the shock of being transported. Instead, they had to use a large pig with tusks attached. Minnelli skillfully shot around him for the first part of the scene, in which the boar holds off Hamilton's hunting dogs. He only showed it at the end, when a healthy dose of tranquilizers created the illusion that Hamilton had killed the beast. Home from the Hill opened to strong reviews, even winning a slot at the Cannes Film Festival. But although critics praised Mitchum's work, most of the initial reviews said Peppard overshadowed him in what would turn out to be the best performance of the young actor's career. At year's end, however, the film, along with the The Sundowners (also 1960), would become the only one to win Mitchum a major acting award. He was named Best Actor by the National Board of Review (one of the industry's oldest awards-granting organizations), with Peppard receiving their Best Supporting Actor nod. Sadly, neither would receive an Oscar® nomination. In Mitchum's case, it's possible the voters couldn't choose between his two strong performances that year. Producer: Edmund Grainger, Sol C. Siegel Director: Vincente Minnelli Screenplay: Irving Ravetch& Harriet Frank, Jr. Based on the novel by William Humphrey Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner Art Direction: Preston Ames, George W. Davis Music: Bronislau Kaper Principal Cast: Robert Mitchum (Capt. Wade Hunnicutt), Eleanor Parker (Hannah Hunnicutt), George Peppard (Raphael "Rafe" Copley), George Hamilton (Theron Hunnicutt), Everett Sloane (Albert Halstead), Luana Patten (Elizabeth "Libby" Halstead), Anne Seymour (Sarah Halstead), Constance Ford (Opal Bixby), Denver Pyle (Mr. Bradley), Dub Taylor (Bob Skaggs), Guinn "Big Boy" Williams (Hugh Macauley). C-150m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

After the opening credits, the following uncredited quote from Robert Louis Stevenson's "Requiem" appears: "Home is the sailor, home from the Sea, And the hunter, home from the hill." According to a January 31, 1958 Daily Variety article, Sol Siegel had just purchased the rights to William Humphrey's novel Home from the Hill for M-G-M. According to director Vincente Minnelli's biography, Siegel left the picture before shooting began because of the other commitments; however, he was given credit onscreen for his participation.
       Hollywood Reporter production charts for the film state that actress Yvette Mimieux was cast in Home from the Hill, but she was not in the released film. In his autobiography, Minnelli explained that Mimieux' scenes were cut from the film. A modern source notes that actor Clark Gable was considered for the lead, but was replaced by Robert Mitchum.
       A February 10, 1960 Daily Variety review of the film states that the film was shot on location in Mississippi and Texas. Minnelli specified in his autobiography that scenes were shot in Oxford, Mississippi and at the Sulphur Flats near Paris, Texas. Another modern source adds Clarksville, Texas as a location. The film, which included many hunting scenes, received critical acclaim for the authentic portrayal of Texas rural life, specifically the boar hunt scenes. Mitchum received the National Board of Review award for Best Actor for his performance.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring March 1960

Released in United States Spring March 1960

CinemaScope

Voted Best Actor (Mitchum--shared with his work in "The Sundowners"), Best Supporting Actor (Peppard), and One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1960 National Board of Review.