A witty, involving drama set in rural Mississippi, Martin Ritt's second film exudes the peculiar charm of the Deep South. Martin Ritt combined two of William Faulkner's Southern stories into this immensely entertaining drama starring Paul Newman as Ben Quick, a wandering handyman who arrives in Frenchman's Bend, Mississippi where menacing rumors about his past are circulating. The self-made town despot, Will Varner (Welles), quickly warms to the drifter and, seeing a bit of himself in Ben Quick, Varner takes him under his wing and gives him a job at his store. Disappointed with his own son's lazy demeanor, and fearing that his grandchildren will be the same, Varner tells Quick that he'd like him to marry his daughter Clara (Woodward), a tough-minded schoolteacher. Quick and Clara clash at first, and their scenes together project an electricity that practically jumps off the screen, no doubt aided by the stars' offscreen attraction. Their performance, along with sharp dialogue and strong support from the rest of the cast, especially Welles' portrayal of Will Varner, a Southern variation on his Hank Quinlan from A TOUCH OF EVIL, help make THE LONG, HOT SUMMER a classic.
Cannes Best Actor 1958 Paul Newman Oscar-winning American actor, THE COLOR OF MONEY