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The Long, Hot Summer
Directed by Martin Ritt
Produced by Jerry Wald
Written by William Faulkner
Irving Ravetch
Harriet Frank Jr.
Starring Paul Newman
Joanne Woodward
Anthony Franciosa
Orson Welles
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) 1958
Running time 115 min.
Language English

The Long, Hot Summer is a 1958 film directed by Martin Ritt, starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, and Orson Welles. The film is based on stories by William Faulkner, primarily "The Hamlet." The film was entered into the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, with Newman winning the award for Best Actor.[1]



Joanne Woodward portrays as Clara Varner

Ben Quick (Paul Newman) hitches a ride to Frenchman's Bend, Mississippi, from Clara (Joanne Woodward) and Eula Varner (Lee Remick). Clara's father and Eula's father-in-law is Will Varner (Orson Welles), the domineering owner of most of the town. Will sees in the brash newcomer a younger version of himself, ruthless and ambitious. These qualities are, in Will's opinion, sadly lacking in his only son Jody (Anthony Franciosa).

He is also disappointed with his schoolteacher daughter. Clara's boyfriend, genteel Southern blue blood Alan Stewart (Richard Anderson), is a mama's boy, not the kind of son-in-law Will wants. He schemes to push his daughter and Ben together, to try to bring fresh, virile blood into the family. She, however, is (seemingly) unimpressed with the crude, if magnetic upstart. He at first is attracted by the wealth Will offers, but eventually comes to see something in her beyond that.

Meanwhile, widower Will's longtime mistress, Minnie Littlejohn (Angela Lansbury), is dissatisfied with her situation. All these strained relationships come to a boil during the long, hot summer.

Jody becomes increasingly alarmed when he sees his position in the family being undermined. Ben is first made a fellow clerk in the general store, then invited to live in the family mansion. When Jody finds Ben alone, he pulls a gun on him and tells him his body will be found downstream, but Ben talks his way out. He tells Jody about buried Civil War-era treasure he has found on some property that Will gave him, a down payment to seal their bargain over Clara. When the two men find a bag of coins, Jody is elated, thinking he might finally get out from under his father's thumb. He buys the land from Ben. Late that night, Will finds his son, still digging. After examining one of the coins, he notices that it was minted in 1910. Jody is crushed. When he later finds his father alone in their barn, he bolts the entrance and sets it on fire. However, he cannot go through with it and lets Will out. The incident brings about a reconciliation.

Meanwhile, the fire causes trouble for Ben, who has been smeared with the reputation of his barn-burning father. Some men assume he is the culprit and start toward him with a rope. Clara drives up and rescues him. Will later claims responsibility for accidentally starting the fire.

The smells bring back bad memories for Ben. He tells Clara how, at the age of ten, he had to sound the warning against his father as he was about to set another fire. Out of gratitude for her saving his life, he tells her he is leaving. However, she has other plans for him, much to her father's delight.


This was the first teaming of Newman and Woodward. They married after the completion of the movie.


It was filmed on location in Louisiana, though set in Mississippi.


It was remade as a 26-part television series of the same name, airing in 1965 and 1966, with Dan O'Herlihy, Roy Thinnes, Nancy Malone, Lana Wood, Ruth Roman, and Edmond O'Brien.

It was remade again for TV in 1985, with Jason Robards, Don Johnson, and Cybill Shepherd (in the role of Eula). It received two Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or a Special. The remake was filmed in Louisiana and Texas.


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