Synopsis

While often regarded as one of America's greatest novelists, William Faulkner produced work that did not always translate well to the screen; it's ironically appropriate that this movie, based on several of Faulkner's short stories, is often regarded as one of the best films based on his work, though not especially accurate to the original source material. Ben Quick (Paul Newman), a sullen but self-confident drifter, arrives in a small Mississippi town where his father had a bad reputation as a firebug. Will Varner (Orson Welles), the town's patriarch, still holds a grudge against Quick's dad, and when the young man decides to stay in town and sharecrop on Varner's land, Will goes out of his way to make his life difficult. However, Will develops a grudging respect for Quick's guts and determination, and he wishes that his weak-willed son Jody (Anthony Franciosa) could be more like him; Jody's wife Eula (Lee Remick) happens to agree. In time, Will gets the idea that Quick might be a good match for his daughter Clara (Joanne Woodward) and a better choice to take over his business dealings than Jody. However, neither Clara nor Quick care to be told what to do, and besides, Clara already has a beau -- though Alan Stewart (Richard Anderson) is even more of a milquetoast than Jody and is led by the nose by his mother (Mabel Albertson). However, sparks begin to fly between Clara and Quick, and when Jody fears he may lose his place as heir of Will's estate, he takes drastic action, trapping his father in a barn, setting it on fire, and planting evidence that would suggest that the blaze was Quick's doing. The Long, Hot Summer was the first film that Newman and Woodward made together, and they got married the same year. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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