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The Burning Hills

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Burning Hills
Original film poster
Directed byStuart Heisler
Screenplay byIrving Wallace
Based onThe Burning Hills
1956 novel
by Louis L'Amour
Produced byRichard Whorf
StarringTab Hunter
Natalie Wood
CinematographyTed D. McCord
Edited byClarence Kolster
Music byDavid Buttolph
Color processWarnercolor
Warner Bros.
Distributed byWarner Bros
Release date
  • September 1956 (1956-09)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.5 million[1]

The Burning Hills is a 1956 American CinemaScope Western directed by Stuart Heisler and starring Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood, based on a 1956 novel by Louis L'Amour.


When Trace Jordan's brother is murdered and several of their horses stolen, Trace sees by the tracks that three men are involved. One man wears Mexican spurs, one walks with a limp, and one smokes cheroots. Upon arriving in the town of Esperanza, Trace sees a destroyed sheriff's office and discovers the only law in Esperanza is Joe Sutton. He also discovers that the stolen horses have been rebranded with the Sutton brand, and their riders who match the description of their tracks work for Sutton. Trace enters Joe Sutton's ranch and wounds him in a shooting.

The enraged Sutton sends his son Jack, his foreman Ben and ten ranch hands to track down Trace before he goes to an Army fort to bring law to Esperanza. Wounded in his escape, Trace is helped by courageous half Mexican woman named Maria Colton. Unable to locate the hidden Trace, Joe Sutton enlists a half Indian tracker Jacob Lantz.



Louis L'Amour said he wrote the novel for Gary Cooper and Katy Jurado.[2] Jurado tried to buy film rights to the novel.[3]

L'Amour's short story "The Gift of Cochise" had been successfully filmed with John Wayne in 1953 as Hondo and there was interest in The Burning Hills. Warner Bros purchased the screen rights in May 1955 and assigned it to Richard Whorf to produce.[4] Irving Wallace wrote the script and John Wayne was announced as a possible star.[5] In December 1955 Tab Hunter was assigned to the lead.[6]

The book ended up selling over a million copies.[7]

Filming started February 1956.


Variety said "With the youthful filmgoer in mind, the combo of Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood in “The Burning Hills” could prove to be a profitable one. They form a team , of somewhat younger stars than is customarily found in sagebrush sagas and do an okay job of the outdoor assignment. The accent on youth in a western plot at least has its novelty value and the teenage fans should like their favorites in this prairie drama."[8]


  1. ^ "Estimated Grosses of Past Year". Variety. January 2, 1957. p. 4. Figures are estimated rentals for US and Canada
  2. ^ "Don'ts for Horse Operas Stressed: Write for the Experts, Says Best-Selling Louis L'Amour". Los Angeles Times. July 1, 1958. p. C9.
  3. ^ Schallert, E. (May 24, 1955). "'Heart of jade' boosted for todd-AO; 'burning hills' launches whorf". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 166780632.
  4. ^ Schallert, E. (May 24, 1955). "'Heart of jade' boosted for todd-AO; 'burning hills' launches whorf". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 166780632.
  5. ^ Schallert, E. (July 13, 1955). "'Burning hills' grows bright for wayne; 'lola montez' speeded abroad". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 166799961.
  6. ^ "Drama". Los Angeles Times. December 1, 1955. ProQuest 166865908.
  7. ^ GERALD, B. C. (May 28, 1975). "How an author's pen wins west". New York Times. ProQuest 120389376.
  8. ^ "The Burning Hills". Variety. August 6, 1956. p. 6.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 February 2024, at 09:24
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