USA, Vincente Minnelli (1960)
One word best describes this movie: testosterone. Home from the Hill is a film about men being real men in that most manly of states, Texas. They drink, they shoot things (animals, each other) and, they treat women badly. They often do these things in combination, and because it’s 1960, they don’t do anything without a cigarette hanging out of their mouths.
George Hamilton—young, pre-tan and looking a lot like Tony Perkins—is Theron, a mama’s boy caught between his frigid mother (ice queen Eleanor Parker—remember the baroness in The Sound of Music?) and his father (man’s man, Robert Mitchum) a cad with a reputation for killing wild boar and sleeping with other men’s wives. On the verge of manhood, Theron falls for the oldest rural rite-of-passage joke, the Snipe hunt, instigated by his father’s gang, who Mitchum always refers to as Men, as in “Come in Men, sit down and have some coffee.” Fed up with his wimpy, book-smart son, Mitchum takes control of the boy away from his wife, and with the help of loyal employee Rafe (George Peppard,) sets to learnin’ Theron about huntin’, shootin’, fishin’, drinkin’, spittin’, and…well, you get the idea.
About halfway through Home From the Hill, when I thought the entire picture was going to be spent teaching Theron the manly art of being a man (yawn,) the conflict finally kicked in, starting with Theron’s romance with a local girl, and escalating into a father-son conflict-slash-soap opera complete with misunderstandings, hidden secrets, adultery, rumor, and unwanted pregnancy.
I’m not sure what the big deal about this movie is. I didn’t buy that an 18-year-old living in small town Texas wouldn’t know what Snipe hunting was by the time he was out of short pants. I didn’t buy that a kid living on a ranch wouldn’t already know how to hunt and fish, even if his ma did mother him to death. And I really didn’t buy that with his father’s reputation what it was in this insular community, Theron wouldn’t already know his father was a notorious womanizer.
Here’s the Gist: It was just one big widescreen soap opera to me. And another thing—it never did answer why the heck it’s called Home from the Hill. [** 1/2]