Burning Hills, The (1956): Western Starring Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood

The Burning Hills, a CinemaScope Western starring Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood, is based on a 1956 novel by Louis L’Amour.

The Burning Hills
The Burning Hills.jpg

Original poster

L’Amour wrote the novel (which sold over a million copies) for Gary Cooper and Katy Jurado, and the latter tried to buy film rights to the novel.

L’Amour’s previous novel “Hondo” had been successfully filmed with John Wayne in 1953, and so there was interest in The Burning Hills. Warner purchased the screen rights in May 1955 and assigned it to Richard Whorf to produce. Irving Wallace wrote the script and John Wayne was considered as possible star, before Tab Hunter assumed the lead.

When Trace Jordan’s brother is murdered and their horses stolen, he realizes that three men are involved. One man wears Mexican spurs, one walks with a limp, and one smokes cheroots.

Upon arriving in Esperanza, Trace sees a destroyed sheriff’s office and discovers the only law in Esperanza is Joe Sutton. 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 (Ray Teal) ranch and wounds him in a shooting.

Enraged, Sutton sends his son Jack (Skip Homeier), his foreman Ben (Claude Akins) and ten ranch hands to track down Trace before he goes to Army fort to bring law to Esperanza.

Wounded in his escape, Trace is helped by courageous half Mexican woman named Maria Colton (Natalie Wood). Unable to locate the hidden Trace, Joe Sutton enlists a half Indian tracker Jacob Lantz (Eduard Franz).



TCM showed the movie on May 11, 2021.