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King of the Hill is a 1993 film, Steven Soderbergh's third feature film, and the second he directed from his own screenplay following his 1989 Palme d'Or-winning effort sex, lies, and videotape. It too was nominated for the Palme d'Or, at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

Based on the Depression-era bildungsroman memoir of writer A.E. Hotchner, it follows the story of a boy struggling to survive on his own in a fleabag hotel in St. Louismarker while his mother is committed to a sanatorium with tuberculosis and his father, a Germanmarker immigrant and traveling salesman, is off on long trips from which the boy can't be certain he will return.

The film is distinctive in part because the antagonists who drive much of the plot are relatively mild by cinematic standards. The two primary ones — a cop on his beat and a hotel porter — share the characteristic of taking joy and pride in sadistically enforcing the property rights of the rich against the poor. The actual rich, with the exception of some schoolmates, are not a direct part of the boy's life; rather, from his perspective, it is the uniformed caste set just above him that generates much of his misery. As such, the film is an unusual commentary on social relations among the underclasses, all the more so within that subgenre since it contains relatively little physical violence (though it does contain some blood.)

Jesse Bradford, who was 14 at the film's release, is the protagonist. Many actors in the supporting cast have had many other prominent roles, including Jeroen Krabbé, Lisa Eichhorn, Karen Allen, Spalding Gray, Elizabeth McGovern, Amber Benson, Remak Ramsay, Katherine Heigl and Adrien Brody. The film also contains the first screen roles of Joe Chrest as the porter and Lauryn Hill, who appears in a small part as an elevator operator.

The music was composed by Cliff Martinez, and includes piano work and cues from classical composer Michael Glenn Williams. Martinez score is restrained and understated, well suited to the nature of the film. Williams' cue for the graduation scene for solo piano, was notable in that it was the basis for his Tone Poem for Henry Cowell.

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