(1947)2.5Bruce EderBrian Desmond Hurst's Hungry Hill has a multi-generational plot worthy of Show Boat or Gone With The Wind, although it took audiences in the United States several decades to see the uncut movie and appreciate precisely how ambitious the movie was. Hurst's film -- co-authored by Terence Young (from an epic-length novel by Daphne Du Maurier) -- is steeped in Irish rather than American history, but otherwise it is all about land and lust, making the parallel with Margaret Mitchell's story all the more apt; indeed, if the lust element were emphasized a bit more, Hungry Hill could have been a Gaelic answer to Duel In The Sun, though it ended up being somewhat classier than the latter movie, if not as memorable. Fully half the plot is taken up by the multi-generational battle between the wealthy, British-spawned and educated Broderick family, who have been in Ireland for 200 years, versus the now-impoverished Donovan clan, who have been in Ireland about as long as there have been people there; that element of the story not only drives the plot, giving it most of its forward momentum, but provides the basis for most of the significant developments in the story. The rest of the picture turns on the tempestuous persona of Fanny Rose Flower (Margaret Lockwood), the free-spirited woman who occupies the dramatic center of the movie, and her romance with young John ("Greyhound Johnnie") Broderick (Dennis Price). Covering 50 years in the history of those two families and that vixenish heroine was no small feat, and the movie was a major production of Filippo Del Giudice's Two Cities Films through the Rank Organisation; a large cast, filled with English and Irish notables (some of them future stars such as Dan O'Herlihy), was assembled, and a sprawling production was mounted to bring a somewhat simplified version of Du Maurier's story to the screen. But what seemed like a worthy effort in England was apparently too much, in its original 109 minute running time, for the movie's American distributor -- for almost 50 years, Hungry Hill was only seen in the United States in a 92-minute version, and that length is still listed in most US sources as the movie's running time. Strangely enough, the 92-minute version seemed much more tedious than the complete film -- so much connecting material was missing that filmgoers felt they were being rushed (or even shoved) from one plot development to the next. Director Hurst, who is best known for his film Scrooge (aka A Christmas Carol) starring Alastair Sim, does well in delineating his characters and draws fine performances out of the entire cast, most especially Dennis Price as "Greyhound Johnnie," and F. J. McCormick (who had passed on by the time the picture opened, and was making only his third movie appearance) as Old Tim; this was also one of Margaret Lockwood's more satisfying portrayals, and she does surprisingly well as the aging Fanny Rose. In the long version of the movie, Hurst achieves a careful if not always successful balance between all of the disparate elements, including the action scenes, that is missing from the 92-minute edition. Hurst allows the action sequences and physical conflicts to escalate in intensity and personal animus throughout the picture, across the generations, so that the penultimate scene is shocking when it comes, an outburst of sudden, very personal violence -- the culmination of conscious wrongs and tragic misunderstandings across a century of more -- that brings the story to a shocking dramatic halt and sets up the resolution of the plot. The movie's other great virtue, and one that carries it very subtly but effectively across the denser plot complications is John Greenwood's supremely lyrical score, built on traditional Irish tunes and original material written in that mode.
The misery caused by a long-term feud between two Irish families provides the framework in this drama based on a book by Daphne du Maurier. The saga begins in 1840 as the father of the Donovan clan rebels against the Brodrick family, the owners of the copper mine located on what was formerly Donovan land. In the ensuing conflict, the mine is destroyed and the eldest Brodrick son is killed. His younger brother then becomes the clan leader. He cares not a fig for mining; instead he would rather spend his time wooing a beautiful local girl whom he marries. They have four children and when the brother dies, his eldest son succeeds him. The new patriarch and his mother are terribly greedy and eager to take control of the mine. His mother is distraught when her son suddenly rejects her. The unwanted woman goes to London where she soon gets involved with gambling and drugs to ease her broken heart. One day, her son travels to the city and runs into her. To ease his aching conscience he asks her to return home. Just as she gets there, the eldest son is killed by another Donovan during a labor dispute. She then has one Donovan arrested. An aging servant manages to talk the bereaved mother into dropping the charges so that the feud may finally end. She does.