The Long, Hot Summer (1958)

1h 55m
Running time

May 17, 1958
Release Date

The Long, Hot Summer (1958)

1h 55m
Running time

May 17, 1958
Release Date

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Network & Production Companies
20th Century Fox
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Accused barn burner and conman Ben Quick arrives in a small Mississippi town and quickly ingratiates himself with its richest family, the Varners.

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Release Date
May 17, 1958


Running time
1h 55m

Content Rating



The Long, Hot Summer is a 1958 American drama film starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, and Orson Welles. It was directed by Martin Ritt, with a screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr., based in part on three works by William Faulkner: the 1931 novella "Spotted Horses", the 1939 short story "Barn Burning" and the 1940 novel The Hamlet. The title is taken from The Hamlet, as Book Three is called "The Long Summer". Some characters, as well as tone, were inspired by Tennessee Williams' 1955 play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a film adaptation of which – also starring Newman – was released five months later.The plot follows the conflicts of the Varner family after ambitious drifter Ben Quick (Newman) arrives in their small Mississippi town. Will Varner (Welles), the patriarch, has doubts about his son, Jody (Franciosa) and sees Ben as a better choice to inherit his position. Will tries to push Ben and his daughter Clara (Woodward) into marriage.

Filmed in Clinton, Louisiana, the cast was composed mostly of former Actors Studio students, whom Ritt met while he was an assistant teacher to Elia Kazan. For the leading role, Warner Bros. loaned Newman to 20th Century Fox. The production was marked by conflicts between Welles and Ritt, which drew media attention. The music score was composed by Alex North and the title song, "The Long Hot Summer", written by North and Sammy Cahn, was performed by Jimmie Rodgers.

The film was well received by critics but did not score significant results at the box office. Its critical success revitalized Ritt's career, after his having been blacklisted during most of the 1950s. Newman won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

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