Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 5, 2018)
An effort from director Vincente Minelli, 1960ís Home from the Hill introduces us to Captain Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum), the richest and most powerful member of his east Texas town. He often cheats on his wife Hannah (Eleanor Parker), a factor that leads to their estrangement.
Their son Theron (George Hamilton) depends on Hannah, but as he nears manhood, Wade decides he needs a manís guidance. This leads to a mix of conflicts inside and outside the Hunnicutt family.
Man, thatís a vague synopsis, especially given the movieís length. Hill runs a fairly extended 150 minutes, so my overview doesnít offer much meat for a film that approaches ďepicĒ status.
Unfortunately, Hill doesnít deliver much substance, either. Essentially just a mopey soap opera, the movie rambles forever and lacks real purpose or heft.
Though Wade acts as the ostensible lead, most of the film actually focuses on Theron, especially in regard to his relationship with town cutie Libby Halstead (Luana Patten). We trace Theronís coming of age/puppy love domains as they develop.
These topics could work as the focus of a movie, but they seem like thin gruel for a flick that runs two and a half hours. The characters and situations fail to develop in a particularly compelling way, and weíre left with simple scenes that sputter along for more minutes than they require.
Take an early sequence in which local men take advantage of young Theronís naivete. He goes on a ďsnipe huntĒ, and the movie doesnít know when to quit, so we watch this aimless sequence expand far beyond its point of purpose.
Iím not sure how much better Hill would be at a shorter running time, though. Yes, its extended length exacerbates its flaws, but even a 100-minute Hill would still give us thin characters and dull melodrama.
Mitchum offers some intrigue, as he straddles the line between charming and loathsome, but we spend way too much time away from Wade. When Mitchum appears, he brings charisma to the tale, but the filmís preoccupation with Theronís melodrama leaves us in the mud.
Obviously Hill boasts talent behind it, but it canít overcome the turgid nature of its story and characters. At 150 minutes, the film wears out its welcome well before the end credits roll.