Honest and hard-working Texas rancher Homer Bannon has a conflict with his unscrupulous, selfish, arrogant and egotistical son Hud who sank into alcoholism after accidentally killing his brother in a car crash.
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Hud Bannon is a ruthless young man who tarnishes everything and everyone he touches. Hud represents the perfect embodiment of alienated youth, out for kicks with no regard for the consequences. There is bitter conflict between the callous Hud and his stern and highly principled father, Homer. Hud's nephew Lon admires Hud's cheating ways, though he soon becomes aware of Hud's reckless amorality to bear him anymore. In the world of the takers and the taken, Hud is a winner. He's a cheat, but, he explains "I always say the law was meant to be interpreted in a lenient manner." Written by
Hud is not some demonic figure or existential Dean like rebel. His evil is summed up by Homer,"That's just it Hud, you don't give a damn about anyone." He doesn't, after the cows get foot and mouth disease Hud suggests dumping them on their unsuspecting neighbors. This comes with the requisite everyone is evil, therefore I can be evil, what difference does it make? Non Sequitur. The movie centers upon an existential tug of war between Hud and Homer over the possession of Lonnie's soul. Hud is constantly having affairs with the married women of the little town, when the film opens, Lonnie is rousting Hud from another married woman's bed. When the man drives up, Hud frames Lonnie for it. The story of the cows having to be destroyed is a simile for Homer and his way of life passing away. Hud wants the land all dug up for oil money but Homer has a connection with his land and livestock. Deeply moral and loving towards Lonnie but cold as ice towards Hud. As the movie progresses, we discover the reasons for the tension between Hud and Homer. The movie is a voyage of discovery for Lonnie. He admires his uncle's skill with women, his drinking and tough guy image.
Gradually, the disillusionment sets in as Lon discovers Hud's utter immorality. Going beyond his indifference to married women, Hud begins moving against Homer to have him put in a home; he then plans on seizing the land and pursuing the oil wells. On a drunken binge, Hud attempts to rape Alma, their housekeeper and cook. She has had enough and decides, with the destruction of all the stock, it is time to leave. There is a great scene where Homer saves the last two longhorn steers; he allows nobody to kill them. He does it himself. The movie, while a masterpiece, is a painful watch. We watch Homer slowly wither and die with his cattle; his deeply moral nobility is dying with him. The scene near the end when Lon cradles the dying Homer with Hud looking on unsympathetically. "It's my time, I got to go, Hud is waiting on me and Hud ain't a patient man." The movie is from admiration of Hud by Lon, at the beginning, to driving away abandoning his inheritance, if it comes with Hud, at the very end. This is not a rebel; this is evil. The man cares for absolutely nothing but his own gratification. Melvyn Douglas deserved his Oscar as Homer.
The movie's power is in showing you everyday evil without vampires, zombies or monsters. The core of human iniquity: INDIFFERENCE. Like the cities built around the concentration camps, Hud just does not give a crap about anyone or anything. Yet, like Melville's Moby Dick, there is some adumbration of malevolence underneath the surface. Watch the scene in the bar where Hud deliberately provokes a fight using a woman as the reason. The indifference is salient but he is cruel. He enjoys hurting Homer and mocking his losing of his senses. The attack on Alma; I admired Newman for taking the role. You will never see him the same again. Yet, Homer's quiet deep nobility is the moral center of the movie. The scene of him singing before the movie, being kind to men who are destroying his life; there is great nobility in his performance. This is why Hud looks like such a scum bucket next to this moral man. A Real Masterpiece.
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