“This is a rotten home”, Wade Hunnicut’s own words. Just after admitting “We’re rotten parents”. Not such a sweet home after all. Not at all. But here, finally the realisation hits home (no pun intended) and plans to change things are hinted at. But all too late…
How did we even get to this point? Well, with Home from the Hill, the 1960 movie based on William Humphrey’s book of the same name and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Captain Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum), his wife Hannah (Eleanor Parker) and Theron (George Hamilton), the wealthiest family in town also appear to be the perfect family. Well, aside from Wade, who is known as a notorious womaniser (and so by the philosophy of “like father like son”, his teen son is deemed the same). He just doesn’t know it yet.
While his parents are silently fighting each other and over their son, Theron has other problems, the teenage problems like girls and growing up. Over and above that, Wade expects Theron to grow up and become a man. The perfect opportunity being the hunt of a massive wild boar. But the cracks are bound to open wider and once they do, it all comes spilling out. Theron finally understand the complexities of his home where he has been shielded the unpleasantries including the realisation that he has a half-brother his father won’t acknowledge. And that’s exactly what eventually leads to the realisation that something has to change. It is just too late…and I’ll leave it at that without totally spoiling it.
Home from the Hill is one of those movies that has had to grow on me, but I’ve also had to grow up. Back when I first saw it as a teen on Super 8 reels, I don’t think the real issues were noticed. I just wasn’t aware of the deeper meanings. I think I must have been young and naive and really just seen the superficial part of it all, the love story. But now, it is all different. The complexities of families. The complexities of homes. The lengths people go to just to keep things together or, the way they throw it all away.
Wade and Hannah try the best they can, despite their differences, to bring up Theron in the most “normal” possible way. Shielding him from their problems. While they are trying to do this, the underlying tensions are very noticeable. Wade‘s shenanigans are obvious. Theron is just so protected that he doesn’t realise what is going on and in his mind the home is perfect. But once it is all out in the open, his views are of a home he is scared to give his own family one day. He doesn’t even want to try.
But, it isn’t only about Theron here. Rafe (George Peppard), the loyal employee of Wade, knows he is also the illegitimate son. Likewise does he know he wasn’t and isn’t wanted, yet vows to make a home like he never had. To make sure a child has a father. To make a difference. And even opens the doors of his home to Theron’s mother as if she was his own.
This drama looks at values of the older and younger generations, how the home is influenced not only by our experiences and upbringing but what we make of it. How change might be too late, yet for other things at the right time. How we make our homes and how we live them. We see how the man who grew up alone is able to provide what the man who grew up with his family can’t. Perfect for the Home Sweet Home Blogathon, because even though much of it is bitter, there is a sweeter note the movie finishes off on. The start of a happy home, a change, to make up for all the darkness before.