Moviedrome Mondays: The Hill (1965)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to director Sidney Lumet’s 1965 WWII prison drama The Hill. Readers can also read Cox intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 20, 1993 (read here). Though I agree with Cox regarding The Hill’s opening shot (he compares it to Touch of Evil), Oswald Morris cinematography, the cast and the execution of it’s drama, his problem with the film’s stage play origins (it became apparent for him near the end) was an obvious one for myself from the very start. In other words, The Hill feels too theatrical and not cinematic enough. Nevertheless, The Hill’s aforementioned virtues are so strong that it really does come off as a good (in my opinion), If not excellent (in Cox’s view) film.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Hill

Here is another youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Hill

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

8 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: The Hill (1965)

  1. When I first watched The Hill, many years ago, the symbolism and the technical excellence of the opening tracking shot were lost on my youthful eyes. They actually screened this film on the BBC over here, to commemorate Sean Connery’s recent passing. Sadly my DVR let me down 3/4 of the way through.

  2. I had no issues with the ‘stagey’ feel. I thought it was great then, and still powerful now. Good choice, John.
    (But that tracking shot of Welles’ is unbeaten in my opinion.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. I haven’t seen this film, John, but I’m curious. I like stage antics within cinema–the “stagey” feel– like with Hitchcock’s Rope. I know a lot of Hitchcock fans who dis Rope, but I’ve seen it many times and I like the affect. I suspect I would like The Hill too. I’m a big Sidney Lumet fan. I love the realism and grittiness of his work. Though he directed a few clunkers most of his cannon is brilliant, in my opinion. I’m going to try to track The Hill down. Thanks.
    –Pam

  4. So sorry to hear that your DVR failed at the 3/4 of the film 😦 If you ever get to watch it again, I can assure that it is worth watching, even though it is far from perfect. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  5. Well I chose to talk about The Hill because that was the next one in this Moviedrome series (In this case, series 6). There is nothing wrong with either the dialogue or the cast – my whole issue is that both feel rooted in the theatrical as opposed to the cinematic. This is not too different from how David Mamet directs – with the exception of House of Games, his electrifying dialogue works better under the direction of somebody else. Though Sidney Lumet did reportedly start directing theatre plays (can’t remember If it was just for television or live or both), he is somewhat capable of creating something cinematic. To this day, I still single out Dog Day Afternoon as his masterpiece. As for Cox’s comparison of The Hill’s opening tracking shot to Orson Welles Touch of Evil, I do not think he was implying that it was better, he was saying that it equals it in terms of excellence. I do agree with that, but I (like yourself) would rank the Touch of Evil tracking shot much higher as well. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  6. The staginess is not so much the problem as it is the theatrical feel to The Hill’s dialogue and acting. This is not to say that the result is far from gripping here, quite the contrary. But both aspects need to feel cinematic as well. The compensation here is that both aspects are also too excellent to get offset by. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope worked because Hitchcock’s aim (among other ones) was to capture a theatrical feel on film and he cleverly did this by shooting it in one single long take. Experimental? You bet. Sidney Lumet is not a bad director at all, though I personally feel that his films work better on the sum of it’s parts as opposed to a whole. The exception to this rule is Dog Day Afternoon, which is not only Lumet’s best film, but also a masterpiece. As for The Hill, please do track it down. Even with it’s stage origin flaw, I still feel that it’s virtues are strong enough for it to be worth checking out. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  7. Right…Of course, this is all a matter of opinion. I happen to think more highly of Lumet’s cannon than you do…You think more highly of Roger Corman’s cannon than I do…so forth and so on. Nevertheless, both are great directors–in my opinion–though, I suspect there would be those, some learned and some not, who would argue that.
    –Pam

  8. “Right…Of course, this is all a matter of opinion. I happen to think more highly of Lumet’s cannon than you do…You think more highly of Roger Corman’s cannon than I do…so forth and so on. Nevertheless, both are great directors–in my opinion–though, I suspect there would be those, some learned and some not, who would argue that.
    –Pam”

    To Pam: As for Roger Corman, The Masque of the Red Death may be his best film to date as a director. As for comparisons with Sidney Lumet, a better one would be that of director/writer/actor John Cassavetes, one of the greats in my opinion 🙂

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