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Hondo (1953)

PG  |   |  Drama, Romance, War  |  5 April 1954 (UK)
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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)

Hondo (1953) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


First she was afraid he'd stay---then she was afraid he wouldn't. See more »


Drama | Romance | War | Western


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

5 April 1954 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

They Called Him Hondo  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Katharine Hepburn was originally planned to have been cast as the female lead, with the idea being that her part and John Wayne's would be roughly equal. However, the female lead role grew less prominent as the script was developed, until it was clearly subservient to Wayne's. Therefore, producer Robert Fellows sent a letter to Hepburn's agent expressing his belief that such a role was beneath a star of Hepburn's stature, and explaining that rather than embarrass her by offering her a part she would be forced to turn down, he decided not to offer it to her at all. The role went to Broadway actress Geraldine Page, instead, while Hepburn and Wayne finally teamed more than twenty years later in Rooster Cogburn (1975). See more »


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


Vittorio: You are Apache. Now, hear me. Pony soldiers are near. Soon will be ford-remembered fight. They will come here first. You will not go with them, white man.
Hondo Lane: I will not.
Vittorio: Leader of pony soldiers will question you. You will say you see Apache trailing to the west.
Hondo Lane: [refusing to comply with the additional instruction] This I will not do.
Vittorio: You will not?
Hondo Lane: I will not.
Vittorio: [to Mrs. Lowe] You have good man. Treasure him.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Featured in The Shootist (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

Under the Blue Mexican Skies!
15 October 2005 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

"Hondo" was originally filmed in the then popular 3-D process which explains the emphasis on foreground shots and a few "comin' at ya" 3-D process shots. By the time the film was released at the end of 1953, the 3-D craze was over and it was on to CinemaScope.

The film has been unavailable for viewing for about 15 years. For its DVD release it has been beautifully restored to its original brilliance. The colors are rich and vibrant including the many Mexican blue sky shots.

The story has a tired and horseless army scout Hondo Lane (John Wayne) coming upon an isolated ranch where he meets Mrs. Lowe (Geraldine Fitzgerald) and her young son Johnny (Lee Aaker). They have apparently been deserted by the husband and father, the brutish Ed Lowe (Leo Gordon).

Hondo befriends the pair and stays around helping with the long neglected chores. Naturally an attraction develops between him and Mrs. Lowe. Finally Hondo leaves for the army post. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Lowe and Johnny are visited by a warring Apache chief, Vittorio (Michael Pate) and his warriors. Vittorio is impressed with the bravery of young Johnny and makes him a blood brother.

Meanwhile back at the post, Hondo meets up with his old pal Buffalo Baker (Ward Bond). In the saloon they are confronted by Lowe and a brawl ensues. When Hondo leaves to return the horse he borrowed from Mrs. Lowe, he is followed by Lowe and his partner (Frank McGrath). Hondo and the two are ambushed by the Apaches. Following the confrontation, Hondo is forced to kill Lowe in self-defence.

As Hondo rides toward the Lowe ranch, he is captured by Vittorio and his warriors. When Vittorio discovers Lowe's picture of young Johnny on Hondo he spares his life. Vittorio's sadistic chief Silva (Rodolfo Acosta) objects and Hondo is forced into a knife fight with the Indian.

Hondo eventually arrives at the ranch where he continues to romance Mrs. Lowe. Vittorio believing that Hondo is Mrs. Lowe's husband, respects his bravery.

Later Buffalo and another scout Lennie (James Arness) arrive with a cavalry troop sent out to bring any settlers into the army post for their safety. We learn that Vittorio has been killed and that the Apaches are now being led by Silva. Without Vittorio's protection, Hondo and the Lowes are forced to leave with the troops. Along the way they are attacked by the Apache and..................

This was one of John Wayne's better westerns however one can't help but compare certain aspects of the story with that of "Shane" released the same year. Geraldine Page received an academy award nomination as best supporting actress for this her first starring role. Long time Wayne crony Bond delivers a colorful performance as the grizzled scout Buffalo. Lee Aaker is probably best remembered for his role as "Rusty" in the TV show "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin".

James Arness who was under contract to Wayne at the time would achieve lasting fame as Marshal Matt Dillon in TV's long running "Gunsmoke". Leo Gordon who was typecast as a villain went on to write several screenplays for Roger Corman in the 60s. Wayne's pal Paul Fix appears briefly as Major Sherry.

John Ford directed the final battle sequence when Director John Farrow had to leave to fulfill other contractual obligations.

The DVD release has an excellent commentary by Leonard Maltin (who also serves as host for the variopus segments), film historian Frank Thompson and Lee Aaker. There is a behind the scenes featurette and tributes to Ward Bond and Wayne screenwriter James Edward Grant are also included.

Great action.

33 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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