A full-blown melodrama, high-octane in situation and characters, Home from the Hill is like an over-taxed engine. The production throws a plot rod or two in its final moments, but when it is concluded the spectator is at least aware he has seen something.
Even though the screenplay, from William Humphrey’s novel, is florid and complicated, in the customary Deep South literary manner, it does not neglect humor and the lighter touches. Vincente Minnelli’s direction is rich and satisfying.
Illicit and illegitimate romance in two generations occupy the principals. Setting is Texas, a town of which Robert Mitchum is not only the richest citizen but the busiest stud. The latter characteristic has iced his marriage to Eleanor Parker since the birth of their now-grown son (George Hamilton). Mitchum has another son (George Peppard), born out of wedlock at about the same time as Hamilton. Hamilton has been so marked by his parents’ relationship that when he falls in love with Luana Patten he lacks the courage to marry her.
Despite the intricacies, the story plays well, due to a fine cast and Minnelli’s sure-handed direction.
Mitchum delivers his strongest performance in years, and Parker handles her end of the conflict well, too, although her role is less interesting. But it is Peppard, from the NY stage, who shines through.