Hurry Sundown

1967, Movie, NR, 146 mins

Review

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Preminger always seemed to attract heavyweight actors for lightweight films (SKIDDOO!, SUCH GOOD FRIENDS, ROSEBUD, THE HUMAN FACTOR, and a host of other bombs). The reviews of this one were universally damning. Set in the South at the end of WW II, HURRY SUNDOWN features Caine as a mean real estate developer buying up property. Two small lots evade him. One is owned by a poor white family, and the other by a poor black family. Caine sends his wife, Fonda, to the black family's home to convince them to sell. The matriarch, Richards, is her one-time nanny. Richards has a heart attack and dies in a simply ridiculous scene. Hooks, her son, becomes the new leader of the family, and refuses to sell. Caine is enraged and attempts to get Hooks into trouble, claiming that Hooks doesn't have a proper deed to the land. Bigoted judge Meredith tries to nail Hooks, but schoolmarm Carroll arrives with proof of Hooks' ownership. Caine gathers a lynch mob, but when they arrive at Hooks' home, the happy family is eating watermelon and fried chicken and singing spirituals--and this is not intended to be a parody. Not surprisingly, the mob disperses. Caine turns his attention to the property owned by the white family, his cousins, but they are equally adamant in their refusal to sell. Law and Dunaway are in charge of that family and very much in love but quite naive. Hooks and Law decide to team up and farm their land together, and Caine goes through the ceiling. He dynamites the dam above the farms, and Law's son is drowned despite an attempt to save him. Fonda leaves Caine just before this, relinquishing claim to any of the land. They have a retarded son, but Caine was so busy trying to make the deal for the land (a northern canning company wants it for a factory) that he neglected her and the child. In the end, the black and white families join forces to help rebuild the area.

Based on the novel by K.B. Gliden (Katya and Bert Gliden), HURRY SUNDOWN cost about $4 million and never returned its investment. To Preminger's credit, this was the first film shot in the South that had blacks in the leads. State troopers had to guard the set and the motels where the crew and cast lived, but that didn't stop someone from defacing their cars. Although set in Georgia, Preminger chose St. Francisville, Louisiana, a hotbed of KKK activities, as his location. leave a comment

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