The Long, Hot Summer
The Long, Hot Summer is a 1958 film directed by Martin Ritt. The screenplay was written 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 Paul Newman - was released five months after the release of The Long, Hot Summer.
The plot follows the conflicts of the Varner family after ambitious drifter Ben Quick (Newman) arrives in their small Mississippi town. Will Varner (Orson Welles), the family's patriarch, has doubts about his son, Jody (Anthony Franciosa), and sees Ben as a better choice to inherit his position. Will therefore tries to push Ben and his daughter Clara (Joanne 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 Brothers 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 the career of Ritt, who had been blacklisted during most of the 1950s. Newman won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.