Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di William Humphrey. Scen.: Harriet Frank Jr., Irving Ravetch. F.: Milton Krasner. M.: Harold F. Kress. Scgf.: George W. Davis, Preston Ames. Mus.: Bronislau Kaper. Int.: Robert Mitchum (Wade Hunnicutt), Eleanor Parker (Hannah Hunnicutt), George Peppard (Raphael ‘Rafe’ Copley), George Hamilton (Theron Hunnicutt), Everett Sloane (Albert Halstead), Luana Patten (Libby Halstead), Anne Seymour (Sarah Halstead), Constance Ford (Opal Bixby), Ray Teal (dottor Reuben Carson). Prod.: Edmund Grainger per Metro Goldwyn Mayer 35mm. D.: 150’. Col.
Theron (George Hamilton) comes of age in the family of macho Texas patriarch Wade Hunnicutt (a sleepy Mitchum). The boy has been coddled by his mother (played with a wondrous Hollywood Texas accent by Eleanor Parker), the price to pay for Wade’s extra-marital cavortings. But now Wade wants to take him hunting and make a man out of his son, whom he would like to resemble cowboy helper Rafe (a very cool George Peppard). The film starts tipping towards delirious melodrama once Theron discovers Rafe’s true relationship to his father, leading to mind-boggling violence and destruction.
Although Minnelli shot on locations in Texas and Mississippi and Milton Krasner’s photography contributes to the film’s psychotic beauty, the director seems more interested in showing the sadness of the Hunnicutts’ ravaged marriage and the ultimate emptiness of Wade’s patriarchy. As he did four years earlier in Tea and Sympathy, Minnelli digs at society’s perception of virility with troubling precision, showing scenes almost never seen in classic Hollywood cinema.