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REVIEW – The Long Hot Summer (1958)

March 2, 2011

More and more, I find myself attracted to character.  Character not so much as a focus for empathy or even sympathy but character as an examination of human psychology and of the human condition as it is projected into the world. One way of exploring the evolution of human nature is by taking an extremely long view of the matters and looking at how the quirks of one generation can blossom into the crippling psychological ailments of another.  This style of writing and approach to character underpins Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series as well as William Faulkner’s Snopes family series of books and short-stories.

The Long Hot Summer is an attempt to capture some of that psychological depth and complexity and communicate it through the medium of film.  Based mostly upon the first of Faulkner’s Snopes novels, The Long Hot Summer features the great Orson Welles as an overbearing paterfamilias whose psychological quirks are strangling both him and his children.  In order to escape from this impasse, Welles’ character needs a catalyst but what of the ethics of using someone else to solve your own problems?  Paul Newman plays a catalyst by the name of Ben Quick.  A catalyst who, it transpires, has issues of his own.

Videovista has my review.

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