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Hondo (1953)

Army despatch rider Hondo Lane discovers a woman and young son living in the midst of warring Apaches and becomes their protector.



(screenplay), (story)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Ed Lowe
Lt. McKay
Johnny Lowe
Maj. Sherry
Rayford Barnes ...
Pete - Card Player in Saloon


Army scout Hondo Lane (played by John Wayne) stumbles across an isolated homestead in the middle of Apache territory. The inhabitants - a woman and her son - believe they are safe, as there is a treaty with the Apaches. Lane knows better though, as the Army has just broken the treaty, causing the Apache to seek revenge on settlers. Despite being a scout for the US Army, Lane has sympathies for the Apaches, having been married to a native American woman and living with her people for five years. With divided loyalties he now has to tread a fine line. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


...They called him 'HONDO' See more »


Drama | Romance | War | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for western violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

27 November 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

They Called Him Hondo  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,100,000, 31 December 1953
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In Married...with Children (1987) season eight, episode twenty-four, "Assault and Batteries", Al Bundy says that "Hondo" is his favorite movie of all time, and he spends the entire episode trying to watch it in peace, unsuccessfully, of course. See more »


In the final battle scene at the end of the movie, the wagon being driven by Buffalo Baker has one of its lead horses go down. John Wayne cuts the animal loose and the wagon takes off with three horses pulling it. In the final scene of the movie, after the battle has concluded, the wagon rides off with a full compliment of four horses. See more »


Angie Lowe: I love you. I suppose I shouldn't have said that with my husband dead so short a time.
Hondo Lane: I don't guess people's hearts got anything to do with a calendar.
Angie Lowe: You were so wonderful, refusing to lie for Vittorio.
Hondo Lane: Oh, he was testing me. Indians hate lies. And I guess I got to feelin' the same way, but once in awhile a fella's got to lie if it'll make it easier on someone else.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dan Rowan as one of the soldiers underneath a wagon shot during the final attack. See more »


Referenced in Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Loner Wayne, Great Cast, in Rewarding Western...
28 October 2005 | by See all my reviews

At first glance, John Wayne's 1953 western, "Hondo", bears a remarkable similarity to another 1953 release, George Stevens' classic, "Shane". Both films open with an iconic stranger appearing out of the wilderness, spotted first by a young, impressionable boy. Both title characters arrive at homesteads in need of an 'extra pair of hands', and form unspoken bonds with the women of the households. Both Hondo and Shane have survival skills the families desperately need, even as the families fill a void in their own lives. But while Stevens' film moves at a slow, deliberate pace, meticulously creating a near mythic vision, "Hondo" director John Farrow, working from a script by longtime Wayne scribe James Edward Grant (from Louis L'Amour story), cuts the exposition down to basics, giving the film a much leaner 'look', with a climax (actually directed by John Ford, as Farrow had scheduling problems with another film) that is so fast-paced that it can leave a viewer in 'midair', expecting more. As a result, "Hondo" isn't held in as high esteem as "Shane", but is certainly a rewarding, entertaining experience, with one of Wayne's best pre-"Searchers" performances, and Geraldine Page earning an Oscar nomination in her film debut.

Filmed in the broiling summer heat of Mexico, utilizing massive, cumbersome dual cameras to create 3-D (which both Wayne and Warner studio head Jack Warner felt was the wave of the future, but would be passé by the film's release), the production was grueling, yet formed lasting friendships. Australian Michael Pate, playing the key role of historic Chiricahua Apache Chief, Vittorio, was stunned to find Wayne, during a dangerous riding sequence, running along, off-camera, to protect him if he fell (Wayne, impressed by the actor, would cast him, ten years later, as another Indian chief in "McLintock!"). Many of Wayne's 'Stock Company' (Ward Bond, Paul Fix, James Arness, Leo Gordon, and Chuck Roberson) have roles (Bond's bearded, crusty 'Buffalo Baker' is a standout). John Ford, between films, vacationed in Mexico to visit Wayne and Bond, and was recruited (unbilled), to help direct.

The only discordant note was stage actress Page. Wayne had hoped to get Katharine Hepburn for the role of Angie Lowe, but the liberal actress wasn't comfortable working with the politically conservative Wayne at that time (during the "Witch Hunt" for suspected Communists in the film industry), and passed on the project (as would her long-time love, Spencer Tracy, in "The High and the Mighty", Wayne's next production). It would be 22 years before Hepburn and Wayne would finally team up (in "Rooster Cogburn"). Geraldine Page, picked by Farrow for her fresh, 'natural' look, carried her stage training and 'attitude' into the filming, which did little to endear her to the cast, and Wayne felt little chemistry between them (although her performance would be a standout debut).

With colorful characterizations, a chaste romance, plenty of action, and little of the obvious '3-D' gimmicks (only noticeable in the titles sequence, and two Indian fight scenes), "Hondo" was a HUGE hit when released, and has endured as one of John Wayne's most popular westerns!

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