2010 August 23 • Monday
The 127th Soundtrack of the Week is Bronislau Kaper's Home from the Hill.
Robert Mitchum plays an incredibly macho Texas patriarch who has forced himself on practically every woman in town while his wife, disgusted by his animal nature, won't let him touch her. He has two sons, a sissy who's been raised by his wife, and an illegitmate woodsman who lives in a shack in the woods.
With its concentration on masculinity, sex, violence and rape, and with a crucial scene of the mama's boy being taken on a bogus "snipe hunt", Home from the Hill might have informed Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs.
A lot of the movie is hard to take today but it's not bad, mostly because of Vincente Minnelli's typically assured direction, Milton Krasner's excellent camerawork, Bronislau Kaper's rich score and, of course, Mitchum's performance, the center of the movie's gravity.
One of the indications of Mitchum's greatness is the inability to imagine another actor playing a Mitchum role as successfully. Any other actor in Home from the Hill would seem absurd. But when Mitchum sits in his den—"a man's room", as he calls it—and lectures his son on manliness, he pulls it off as nobody else could have done.