Robert Mitchum Spotlight: Home from the Hill

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Thanks, everyone for the recommendations of Robert Mitchum films to explore during this winter’s festival of a star whose filmography I know too little about. Home from the Hill (1960) is a family saga of repressed passions with the scale and flavor of Giant (1956). This film is a better melodrama with puzzling characters that lodge in your heart. Combine the fine direction by Vincente Minnelli, the strong presence by Mitchum, the excellent acting by newbies George Peppard and George Hamilton, and place them on location shots of Paris, TX (exterior) and Oxford, Mississippi (interior) for a charismatic, southern experience.  Check out the Turner Classic Movies site for facts and trivia found HERE

“Requiem” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Under the wide and starry sky/Dig the grave and let me lie:/Glad did I live and gladly die,/And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:/ Here he lies where he long’d to be;/Home is the sailor, home from the sea,/And the hunter home from the hill.

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Captain Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum) has everything a man could desire. He possesses a beautiful wife, Hannah (Eleanor Parker), and the wealth and power as an East Texas baron. His son Theron will carry on the family name, and a collection of stuffed trophies are daily reminders of his prowess as outdoors man. Wade Hunnicutt is the epitome of the alpha dog who does what he wants when he wants because he can.

Now step behind the impressive facade of wealth and power, and the thorns and scars of a broken family emerge, player by player. Who is Rafe played by George Peppard? Sensitive, wise, calm, tender, honorable–George gives a performance that overshadows his mentor, Robert Mitchum. It is the primary reason to watch the film for Rafe is a character that will stay with you long after the film is over.  I admire the direction of Vincente Minnelli. His staging and versatile shots are beautiful, colorful and balanced.

For me, epics are hard to watch because they run too long or the melodrama descends into a soap opera or the acting dips and feels flat. Take Giant for instance. However, Home from the Hill has enough plot twists and room for all the characters to change and grow.  My only criticism would be I disliked how the music manipulated the audience to respond emotionally instead of allowing the actors to do that. When the scene changed, the music staged the mood and how you should react to it. Still, 150 minutes flew by, and I cared for many of the characters, especially Rafe. 4.5 / 5.

Did you feel sorry for confused son Theron? Libby who disgraced her family? Bitter and icy Hannah? What was your favorite scene? 

47 thoughts on “Robert Mitchum Spotlight: Home from the Hill

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  1. I am not sure who I would like but trust your opinion of George Peppard. It is a shame Eleanor had to be an ice queen. I have seen her in warm roles, Cindy. George grew into quite a talented and versatile actor. Nicely presented, as always. 🙂

    1. You knew she had a reason–Wade’s philandering didn’t sit well. But then the secrets come out as the story progresses and you fully understand. She carries the ending–I won’t ruin it. Hope you get a chance to see this soon. 🙂

  2. This is one of my favorite movies. I have always wondered what happened to Theron after the credits rolled. My favorite scene is in the cemetery at the end. Rafe finally gets his recognition as Wade’s son, and Hannah open up again. Obviously, everyone had their lives affecting by Wade’s actions. However, I have always been fascinated by the role that the town gossips played in the tragic ending.

    1. Rick, glad you liked this one, too. The “boys”, like a cluster of simpletons, had a pretty influential role, didn’t they? Poor Theron. He had a lot of good in him, didn’t he? I enjoyed the relationship he had with Rafe. If only Libby told him her secret. The brothers are foils. Their histories and plots are exact opposites.

  3. I haven’t seen this film for so long. All I can remember about it were the almost unnatural colours (that worked well) and being impressed by a young George Peppard. I hope that it pops up on TV soon, so I can watch it through older eyes this time.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Thanks, Pete. From my older eyes, it was great. I’ve seen a few Peppard films, but his first outing here was the best I’ve seen him act. I know this is a Robert Mitchum post, but Peppard out-acted him by a long shot.

  4. My relationship with this film is a long and personal one, and I’m afraid George Peppard plays but a small role in it. For this kind of outcast character, I prefer James Dean in East of Eden. It was Mitchum who impressed me here. Mitchum and Minnelli’s interiors.He invented the man cave fifty years before the phrase existed. Wade was like a glorified version of my own father, and with a divorce happening when i was ten years old, I was caught in a similar battle as my uber-masculine father tried to tear me away from the influence of my artistic mother..and vice versa. What I love today about seeing Mitchum is how out of shape he is, yet how powerful he seems. You would never see such a fat leading man laying around shirtless in a contemporary film.

    1. Uber-masculine is how I would describe Mitchum. That’s funny about him being fat–he’s a rare male actor that can take off his shirt and the bubble over his belt looks like a muscle. I am sure If I socked him, he wouldn’t budge.
      Anyway, for the record, I loved James Dean in East of Eden so I can appreciate your comparison and agree with you. The scene of Mitchum that moved me was his interaction with his wife–getting on his knees, trying hard at the end to try fresh and forget the baggage.

  5. I never pegged Hannah as bitter or icy. She was stubborn, but sweet..maybe excessively so in her raising of Theron, George Hamilton was terrific in the part. I never cared for him in anything else. Peppard was good, but I was more excited by his performance as Jonas Cord in The Carpetbaggers.

    1. Hannah’s voice annoyed me. Except for the ending scene when she redeems the family, I wasn’t much moved. I was intrigued when the Capt. tried to suggest they return to their honeymoon spot and she whispers “I was happy then.” The exchange was full of hope which naturally made the next scene moving.

      1. i havent seen that much of eleanor parker.i liked her with william holden in escape from fort bravo..and would like to see her as mildred in of human bondage (my favorite of the versions i have seen in the kim novak/laurence harvey)

          1. minnelli is one of my favorite directors and some came running is a magnificent film., but since it is a different text from the novel, he should have changed the text. dean martin should never have called her a pig. the character in the book was a pig. the character in the movie was not. i dont know if home from the hill is a better film, but it is my personal favorite. and i think you know that the apartment is my favorite maclaine picture.

  6. Mitch made a few Westerns. (‘Spoze yu knew that)
    I plan to to a post on that one day (he said). I’m thinking, some of them were pretty good.
    Don’t know of this particular movie tho. In 1960, I was 12 and that looks like pretty steamy Adult stuff.
    I really gotta catch up on a lot of these movies …

  7. Something better than Giant. I caught the second half of Giant on TV last year and quite liked it. I’m not making any promises of when but I will have to see Home From The Hill and Giant. Nice review Cindy, got me interested but didn’t give too much away. Gee wasn’t Hannibal a good looking boy? 🙂

    1. Hi Lloyd; there’s a lot to admire about Giant, but I thought it fragmented and I was angry at Liz Taylor’s character, Leslie. She was awesome as a spit-fire, then turned into a mousy, boring wife. James Dean is fine, but at the end with the drunken bit, I thought it dragged and grew tedious. Anyway, I found Home from the Hill more satisfying. 🙂

      1. Yeah it will be interesting to see the rest of the film. I guess it moved me. The open prejudice at the beauty parlour really angered me and that moment where Hudson takes a stand. The fight goes on a bit to let us know Rock Hudson is still a movie star before he loses but in pushing that fight a change is coming in him and in general.

      2. I tried to watch Giant so many times, and thought it just a terrible movie, one of Rock Hudson’s worst. Finally, a few years ago, I made it through to the end, and quite liked it. Maybe it is one of those movies you should start watching at mid-point.

        1. That’s not a bad idea, Bill. I liked the beginning with the dynamic between the sister and Leslie the newcomer. Then her sudden death it went down hill for me. Hudson was tall dark and boring and I love James Dean in anything he does.

  8. Hi Cindy! Haven’t seen this one I’m afraid, so nothing to add about this post.

    But just want to say I’m watching Gosford Park right now 😉 Btw, I think you might’ve missed my comment on your Alan Rickman post, it’s ok it happens sometimes, I was hoping to see if you share some of my fave roles of Mr Rickman.

    1. Hi Ruth! I know you well enough to say you would enjoy Home from the Hill. Keep it in the back of your mind. Oh, what month are you featuring ‘The Last Picture Show’ in your blindspot? I’m thinking of a future Lucy 13 topic and was tossing around Jeff Bridges.
      wow, sorry I missed your comment! How’d that happen?

      1. I missed seeing GIANT which was one of my Blindspots a couple of years ago. I’ll give this a shot though, I’ve never seen any film w/ George Hamilton in it, wasn’t he a dish in his hey day? 😉

        I don’t have ‘The Last Picture Show’ on my Blindspot, you might be confusing me w/ someone else. But hey, Jeff Bridges sounds like a great idea!

        1. It must have been Keith. Hmm. Well, It’s certainly a fine film! I like Jeff a lot. George Hamilton as Theron was excellent. Tender, sad, and confused. It’s the only role of Hamilton’s I can think of.

  9. Interesting, I struggle to find the interest in super old films, but yeah after this review, it has definitely piqued my interest. The way you described how Music manipulated the audience was exactly how I felt about Brooklyn. There’s really so much sound going on, I’d much preferred just letting the acting set the tone. Nice review!!

    1. Welcome, JW. I read the book but haven’t been to see the film, Brooklyn. I’m a big fan of a good score–films are elevated because of them. However, when it crosses over too much, every scene, telling me before the actors open their mouths, I feel insulted. Older films take a moment to jump into them if all you know is current film-making. The great classics deserve a viewing–they are very satisfying and surpass a lot of plots and acting that goes today. I also love them because I’m a social historian and classic films are windows to the culture of the past. Hoep you like “Home from the Hill” –make sure you see another Vincente Minnelli film which I prefer even more–that’s “Some Came Running”.
      https://cindybruchman.com/2015/03/26/cinemascope-and-some-came-running/

      1. Yeah I feel the same way too, like the music makes it seem so forced. It can be ironically more distracting and less effective as well. Sure! I’ll check them out! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. My parents always loved this one so when I was a kid I’d see it but of course I wanted Mitch the action star. I’ve come to appreciate it over the years and see it as one of his better roles with a really good cast surrounding him.

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