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Hondo (1953)

PG  |   |  Drama, Romance, War  |  5 April 1954 (UK)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 6,031 users  
Reviews: 68 user | 51 critic

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

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Title: Hondo (1953)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
...
...
...
Rodolfo Acosta ...
Leo Gordon ...
Tom Irish ...
Lt. McKay
...
...
Rayford Barnes ...
Pete - Card Player in Saloon
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Storyline

Hondo Lane, a despatch rider for the cavalry, encounters Angie Lowe, a woman living alone with her young son in the midst of hostile Apache territory. She presumes she is safe because the Apaches, under their chief Vittorio, have always left them alone. Later Lane has a run-in with Angie's reprobate husband and is forced to kill him, not knowing who he is. Vittorio captures Lane and to save his life, Angie tells the Apache chief that Lane is her husband, unaware that Lane has killed her real husband. In order to protect her from a forced marriage with one of the Apache, Lane reluctantly goes along with the lie, though he knows the truth must eventually come out, to Vittorio and to Angie, both. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Hot Blooded With The Heat Of The Plains That Bred Him, Silent As Gunsmoke, A Stranger To All But The Surly Dog At His Side... See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War | Western

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

5 April 1954 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

They Called Him Hondo  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Ford directed the climactic battle scenes at the end of the movie, according to a special feature on the 2005 DVD release. Apparently director John Farrow had to leave to start another film commitment and Ford took over. His work was uncredited. See more »

Goofs

In several camera shots at the Lowe Ranch, a tall radio tower can be seen on a distant mountain top. See more »

Quotes

Hondo Lane: Destarti. You remind me of her some.
Angie Lowe: Of an Indian girl? Was she fair?
Hondo Lane: Her hair was black as ten feet down. Did you ever see a crow's wing, how black and gleaming it is?
Angie Lowe: Yes.
Hondo Lane: That's the way her hair shined. I'd like to pay you for that rope. Ridin' dispatch, I have the right to give you a script.
Angie Lowe: You loved her?
Hondo Lane: I don't know. I needed her.
Angie Lowe: But if she was dark and I'm fair...
Hondo Lane: Why you reminded me of her?
Angie Lowe: Yes
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Men in Black 3 (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Loner Wayne, Great Cast, in Rewarding Western...
28 October 2005 | by (Las Vegas, Nevada) – 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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