Texas Ranger Jake Cutter arrests gambler Paul Regret, but soon finds himself teamed with his prisoner in an undercover effort to defeat a band of renegade arms merchants and thieves known as Comancheros.
During the Alaska gold rush, prospector George sends partner Sam to Seattle to bring his fiancée but when it turns out that she married another man, Sam returns with a pretty substitute, the hostess of the Henhouse dance hall.
J.D. Cahill is the toughest U.S. Marshal they've got, just the sound of his name makes bad guys stop in their tracks, so when his two young boys want to get his attention they decide to rob... See full summary »
A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the ... See full summary »
After the Civil War, ex-Union Colonel John Henry Thomas and ex-Confederate Colonel James Langdon are leading two disparate groups of people through strife-torn Mexico. John Henry and ... See full summary »
When his cattle drivers abandon him for the gold fields, rancher Wil Andersen is forced to take on a collection of young boys as his drivers in order to get his herd to market in time to ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
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!
22 of 33 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?