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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hud Bannon is a hell-raising cowboy with a pink cadillac who lives on a
lonely farm with his old father and his teenage nephew. There is a glaring
mismatch between Hud's playboy inclinations and the dour, empty life of the
farm. A traumatic event brings these family tensions to a
The broad flat expanses of the Texas cow country are captured evocatively in Panavision. This is a world of open cattle range, small sleepy towns, screen doors, stetsons and tooled-leather boots. The land is arid and unforgiving, and the life here is hard. Farmers pass their evenings sitting on plain wooden porches, listening to the whipoorwills, and the youngsters rent the same old pulp novels at the general store. Elmer Bernstein's elegantly simple score underlines the starkness of this existence. Country music bleeds from juke boxes and transistor radios, as bland and omnipresent as the dust, creeping into every crevice of the film.
Hud is a fine-looking man with undeniable charm, but he is also a cruel, selfish stud. He is now 34 years old, and his years of drinking, fighting and womanising are beginning to take on the aspect of a wasted life. The opening moments of the film show young Lonnie (Brandon de Wilde) scouring the town streets in the early morning light, searching for his Uncle Hud. We get to know Hud by the trail of destruction he has left in his wake. A bar owner, sweeping up broken glass, tells Lonnie "I had Hud in here is what I had." A woman's high-heel shoe, abandoned on the garden path, tells Lonnie exactly where his uncle spent the night.
Running around with married women is Hud's style. It is an affront to this close-knit conservative community, and an emotional and biological dead-end.
"I always say, the law was meant to be interpreted in a lenient manner" pronounces Hud, who bends every rule to suit his own inclination. He avoids the anger of a cuckolded husband by shifting the blame to the innocent Lonnie, and when a serious problem arises with the family herd, Hud wants to sell the cattle quickly, aiming to preserve his own wealth and pass the problem on to others. His father Homer (Mervyn Douglas) is a man of unimpeachable honesty, and we see a glance pass between him and Hud which tells us everything. Father and son know each other's true worth.
It surprises Hud that Homer should seek his opinion on the cattle problem. For a long time now, the old man has been running the farm without Hud taking any responsibility. "He didn't ask me about anything in fifteen years." Gradually, we begin to learn about a family tragedy which has irrevocably alienated the two men.
The pig-chasing game at the rodeo is an ironic comment on skirt-chasing, and of course Hud wins the prize. He has the confident swagger and the jaunty-hipped stance of a man who knows he is pleasing to women. His sexual banter with Alma runs through the film. Alma admires Hud sexually, but his interest in her is limited to mere conquest. In pursuing her he flouts the rules of taste and decency (she is an employee, almost family, and he is brutal towards her). This is prefigured when he arrogantly parks his cadillac on her flower bed.
Alma keeps house for the Bannons. She enjoys the masculine atmosphere and takes the coarse innuendo with good-natured amusement. Patricia Neame plays Alma with a loose-limbed, barefoot sexiness which ultimately brings her trouble. She has flirtatious fun with Lonnie and confesses to being aroused sexually by Hud's torso. When Homer tells Lonnie that women like to be around dangerous men, Alma leans into shot. However, Alma the divorcee has no illusions about Hud - "I done my time with one cold-blooded bastard," she says. "I'm not looking for another."
The film is packed with wonderful images. As Lonnie crosses the dusty street, his upper body is obscured by the rodeo banner, suggesting that his individuality is being compromised by the hard round of rural life, the unending interplay of sun and dirt. The slanting tree with its ominous burden of buzzards frames the pick-up truck, presaging trouble. Homer and the vet, discussing cattle in the foreground, bracket the distant Hud. He is diminished and marginalised by these serious cattlemen. Gates close on the farm, with quarantine signs attached, showing more eloquently than any words how Homer's world is narrowing and darkening. A bulldozer traverses the screen from left to right, effecting a 'wipe', leaving the three Bannons alone against the dirt, in an emblem of the devastation the government has visited upon them. As they gaze into the pit, the bulldozer squats above them in triumph. Hud is 'enclosed' by the angle of his cadillac's door, just as his life is hemmed in by his shallow hedonism. At the depot Alma's body is framed by Hud's hat and chest, hinting at his oppressive sexuality. The two of them are caught fleetingly in the rectangle of the bus door, Alma symbolically shown as 'the one that got away'.
The slick, sardonic script is first class, and the film is bursting with symbolic resonances. Homer carries a picture of his long-dead boy in his wallet, but none of Hud, his living son. The cattle are trapped in a timber chute, symbolising the claustrophobic existence of the humans. The sexual violence is played out in panting silence - these people have nothing to say to each other. Homer's longhorns were once the source of everything good - food, clothing, tools. Now they are harbingers of pestilence. At the heart of the farm is the water butt, and Lonnie and Hud bond here after their night of carousal. Later, when Lonnie rejects Hud, the butt stands between them.
Lonnie knows he will ultimately have to choose between right and wrong. In the windswept silence of the farm, emblem of the family's demise, he makes his choice.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The title character, a cattleman in contemporary Texas, is the
quintessence of Newman's amoral, opportunistic loners: he's arrogant,
seething with ambition, incapable of much warmth or affection
quarrels, drinks heavily, takes women with crude assurance ("The only
question I ever ask any woman is 'What time is your husband coming
home?' "), and doesn't give a damn about anyone except himself
Newman brings his familiar characteristics to perfection: the cynical, cold in manner; the nasty, contemptuous voice; the sly, insinuating smile He's a model of casual defiance and detachment, as he drinks a pint of bourbon or stands insolently, hands on hips, hat down low over his forehead, or roars through the dusty town in his convertible Cadillac, making business deals or picking up loose women...
Hud resembles Ben Quick, which isn't surprising, since director Martin Ritt and writers Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. also did "The Long, Hot Summer." Like Quick, he is considerably sexy and charming, which attracts women and drinking buddies He's the best example of Newman's idea of the glamorous, captivating, virile, but essentially rotten men we mistakenly admire; according to Newman, the film is meant to expose his underlying corruption
The drama revolves around the discovery of Hud's amorality by Lon (Brandon de Wilde), his seventeen-year-o1d nephew Lon admires his uncle, but is ultimately torn between Hud's hedonism and the high moral principles of Hud's father, aging Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas).
When Homer's cattle become diseased, Hud wants to sell them quickly, but Homer refuses to spread an epidemic, and has them destroyed Hud really becomes despicable as he tries to have his father certified incompetent, so that he can take over the ranch Like Chance Wayne ("Sweet Bird of Youth"), he's afraid of ending up in poverty: "You don't look out for yourself, the only helping hand you'll ever get is when they lower the box."
Whereas Quick turned out to be a good guy after all, and Fast Eddie and Chance matured through pain and punishment, Hud is untouched and unregenerate to the very end Refusing to accept his guilt, he says he's only as corrupt as everyone else; before he goes into the house, he angrily yells, "The world's so full of crap a man's going to get into it sooner or later, whether he's careful or not. "
Many people considered Hud a hero But this is natural, since the film is actually filled with compromises For instance, Homer, the representative of goodness, is self-righteous, inflexible, full of solemn, pious platitudes, and generally unappealing, while Hud is vital, life-affirming and humorous Furthermore, Homer's contempt for Hud, which he justifies by Hud's having never given a damn, seems unfair Apparently he soured on Hud when the latter was in his teens, and thus the boy was denied love when he most needed it This again brings up the father-son alienation theme, and it makes us sympathetic toward Hud
Even in his relations with others, Hud is not entirely despicable He displays some tenderness toward Lon, especially in the scene in which they get drunk together There's a touching moment as Hud says, somewhat sadly, "Get all the good you can out of seventeen, because it sure wears out in one hell of a hurry." In his cynical conversations with Alma, he has Quick's insolent sexual confidence, but Alma is experienced, earthy and just as cynical, and she even seems to encourage his sly innuendos, making it a match of equals rather than a one-sided sexual pursuit
Finally, how does an actor play a man whose overpowering charm attracts people, without attracting the audience as well? Of course this is a problem inherent in all of Newman's sexy villains, but at least with Quick and Eddie the charming traits prepare us for their reformations, while with Hud they work against the concept of his worthlessness At this stage in his career, Newman was so appealing that it was hard to consider him as completely rotten
"Hud" was nominated for seven Oscars Awards went to Neal, Douglas and cinematographer James Wong Howe Newman, up for his third Oscar, said, "I'd like to see Sidney Poitier get it. I'd be proud to win it for a role I really had to reach for." He got his wish: Poitier ("Lilies of the Field") won In any case, "Hud" found Newman near the top of his form, and it was a culmination of the "seed of corruption" theme To be sure, subsequent characters would be corrupt, and would coldly reject the world, but never as a result of such intense ambition
Not only a stark morality tale brimming with grit and substance, "Hud" is
vigorous character study replete with intelligent, Oscar-winning
The vast, desolate "Lone Star" landscape has often inspired potent Hollywood screen-writing (witness "Giant," and "The Last Picture Show"). 1963's "Hud" is no exception. The story focuses around a bored, aimless, arrogant ne'er-do-well whose utter contempt for humanity threatens to denigrate and destroy all those exposed to it. Thrust in a dusty, dried-up, decaying Texas cattle town (awesomely photographed in black-and-white by Oscar-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe), the story bears down assertively on its straightforward themes of nihilistic youth and misguided hero worship.
Paul Newman was awarded an Oscar - but not for "Hud." He took home the award much later for his performance in 1987's "The Color of Money" but for me it was a restitutive pat on the back for his probing, higher-calibre work here in "Hud," among others. Newman gives an assured, excitingly reckless performance, the creme of the crop of earlier, jaunty perfs. All swagger and bluff, reeking with cocky sexuality, Hud Bannon is the personification of cool, callous cynicism at its most reprehensible...and alluring. The world is this cowboy stud's oyster. He takes what he wants, whenever he wants it - whether its coveting his father's land or coveting another man's wife, whether its peddling sick cattle on others or peddling his ethics on a susceptive boy - it's all at the core of a dangerously irresponsible life's dogma. A loser's warped vision of winning. It was a risky star performance for Newman as Hud has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but the actor plays out his acting cards brilliantly and winds up with a royal flush.
Newman is bolstered by a choice cast. Dusky-voiced Patricia Neal, whose looks had begun to harden by this time, is fascinating as the forlorn, slovenly housekeeper Alma who has her careworn hands full just keeping the lustful, roving Hud in line. Hud (and the audience) is perked by her stifled but not yet snuffed out sensuality, as she wisely avoids the obvious come-ons tossed her way. Making relative peace with her lonely, desultory existence, Alma has overcome a difficult past and find a sense of being as the makeshift homemaker to an aging rancher/widower (Melvyn Douglas) while tending to his impressionable grandson (Brandon de Wilde), instilling in the boy some good old-fashioned sense and motherly attention when necessary. Neal is top-notch especially in her final scenes and quite deserved her Oscar.
Oscar-winning Douglas is superb as Hud's upstanding, uncompromising father, a cattle man in the twilight of his years. Chocked full of conventional wisdom and righteous indignation, the prideful old-timer may or may not have contributed to his son's acute moral letdown, having given up on him as a "bad seed" long ago. Their confrontational scenes are pocked with harsh accusations and bitter conflict - never to be resolved. De Wilde, in a coming-of-age extension of his memorable "Shane" role, again portrays the embodiment of idolizing youth as the teenage Lon. Drawn to the brawling, good-looking "outer package" of his older Uncle Hud, deWilde is touching as his character gradually wises up to the realization that this superficial "package" is damaged goods, while those nearest and dearest to him fall by the waste side.
A near-classic to be sure. The performances alone make this a not-to-be-missed item.
One Hell of a movie, and very nearly perfect. Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, and Brandon De Wilde star as three generations of a ranching family. Douglas is the patriarch, stern and strong, but clearly moving ever closer to the end of his life. Paul Newman, who plays the title character, is his youngest and only surviving son. There is an obvious but unspoken conflict between the two of them. In the middle is Brandon De Wilde, actually the film's main character (although all the choice acting moments belong to Douglas and Newman, and the yet to be mentioned Patricia Neal). His father, Newman's brother, died when he was very young. Growing up in Douglas' shadow, he worships the man and tries to emulate his moral code. However, his wilder side sees the untamed Newman as a sort of folk hero, and the rare times when he gets to hang out with his uncle seem to him to be the best of his life. Patricia Neal plays their maid (brilliantly, I should immediately state), after whom both uncle and nephew lust. A different conflict arises from this. As Hud, Paul Newman has many chances to be a second James Dean, exploding with emotion. Those scenes are excellent, of course, but where Hud succeeds most is at the edges of the screen. It is an enormously subtle film. The filmmakers should especially be commended for their amazing use of musical score. There is a really beautiful score, but it is never used, not once, to steer the audience's emotions. A good 90% of the film has no music in the background. Hud is an American masterpiece. 10/10.
It's difficult to grasp that Melvyn Douglas spent most of his career
sailing through light, romantic roles and emerged in old age as one of
the greatest actors in cinema history. Knowing the talent he possessed,
how did he keep from killing the heads of the studios? Paul Newman,
Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal, and Brandon de Wilde star in "Hud," an
unsparing 1963 morality story about a Texas rancher, Homer Bannon, his
bastard son, Hud, his housekeeper, and his grandson. The bastard, of
course, is Paul Newman, who doesn't have a decent bone in his body.
People on this board have said it's his greatest performance. He's
given so many great ones, it's hard to say for me. An astounding actor,
and he gets a run for his money from Douglas, who plays the moral
center of the story.
The two characters couldn't be more opposite, as one sees in their treatment of a potential run of hoof and mouth disease that could wipe out Homer's entire herd. Hud wants to ship the whole herd out and possibly infect other people's cattle - he couldn't care less. Homer won't hear of it.
If you love animals, this is a difficult film to watch, but it's worth it. Melvyn Douglas is absolutely gut-wrenching as Homer, a proud man who loves the land and his cattle and who has no use for his son, who smashed his car and killed Homer's other son. de Wilde is Hud's nephew who admires him and wants to emulate him but as time goes by, realizes that Hud is made of ice. de Wilde doesn't give an emotional performance - he's almost more of an observer. It works well here amidst the very contained Douglas and the free and easy Newman. You can see he's a good kid trying to grow up and decide what kind of man to be.
Patricia Neal is the housekeeper; she and Douglas both deservingly won Oscars. Her delivery is wry and knowing; she can't help being attracted to the virile Hud but she knows he's trouble and never gives in to her desires willingly.
As much as I love Newman and think he's one of the greatest actors ever to hit the movies, for me, Douglas' searing performance is the one that will stay with me. It's easy to see why in 1963 this was such a dramatic breakthrough for Newman, but 43 years and many roles later, we're more familiar with what he can do. We know he can play a cold bastard now. His greatest performances for me will always be those in the "The Verdict" and "The Hustler," both of which called for many more nuances of character. Hud represents '60s disillusionment - which as the decade went on was only going to get worse; this is one of the reasons it is an iconic role. For me, Newman had more surprises in store.
Brilliant performances, excellent direction, stark photography, Hud is a great American film, not easily forgotten once seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hud is a masterpiece!It takes the age old morality play and presents it
in a fresh and believable light.The lead character has no socially
redeeming qualities,in direct conflict with the high moral Stoddard's
of his father.
Paul Newman is flawless,and once said,"playing Hud came too easy".The cinematography is pristine and the sets bring you west.The solo guitar that plays in the background is subtle yet keeps you rapt with attention.
The ending is logical and thought provoking.It is not one that has been tested on focus groups as Hollywood insists on today.There are no last minute plot twists to make for a happy ending.
Sadly the days of movies of this quality coming from big studios are over.Cherish this one.
As a native of West Texas, I think this film is one of the finest in
American cinema. You don't watch a movie - you experience a real time
and place. I happen to love a bunch of Paul Newman's films (The 3 H's -
Hud, Hombre and Harper; Cool Hand Luke; The Sting; The Hustler; The
Color of Money...), but I'm not what you'd call a rabid fan. I think he
is compelling, but has a fairly limited range. He is perfect in this
role, but it isn't much different from The Hustler or Cool Hand Luke.
However, watching Melvyn Douglas is like watching somebody that Marty
Ritt pulled off of some ranch and filmed in his daily life. His
performance is absolutely dead- on. The gravelly drawl, the old boy
shuffle, his expression - the way his eyes take in the landscape or
gaze intently into a bowl of ice cream while Hud talks - all incredibly
REAL! I KNOW those old guys!
Melvyn Douglas is a truly under-appreciated American acting genius whose career spanned over 5 decades. His range is tremendous. This is the same honey-tongued actor who is the perfect comic foil to Garbo's Ninotchka in the '30's (In fact, he is one of her only REPEAT leading men!) And his bluster-filled performance in I Never Sang for My Father (with another modern great, Gene Hackman) is also out of this world! Other commentators have addressed Hud's multi-faceted story and the incredible B&W cinematography. All wonderful - but the next time you watch this true American classic, focus on Douglas' Oscar-winning performance. You will be amazed! (And remind yourself of some of the early roles in romantic comedies - Ninotchka, That Uncertain Feeling, This Thing Called Love or Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House - this same actor performed so well.)
Paul Newman gave easily his greatest performance as Hud Bannen, the hard-fighting, hard-drinking, womanising ne'er-do-well, who casts a malign shadow over the lives of his family and their housekeeper on a Texas ranch. It is a strong all-round cast however, and Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal both won Academy Awards for their performances. The sparse and grainy cinematography by James Wong Howe (another Oscar winner) brilliantly captures the harsh, arid Texas landscape. Adapted from Larry McMurtry's novel Horseman Pass By, this is one of the finest examples of American Cinema in the 1960's, not least in its depiction of father-son conflict, and the way one in which one man can profoundly influence, for the worse, the lives of those around him. Newman worked as a ranch-hand in Texas to prepare for the role, which helped him obtain his authentic Texan credentials, most notably his accent, and his cocky strut and manner. A timeless classic, which can be viewed again and again.
Hud is the finest American movie ever made. One hundred years from now people will want to know who we were, how we lived and what kind of problems we faced. Hud is a great movie not only because it is a great story with great actors, great direction and a great score but also because it helps future generations understand us. It is a great human interest story, a classic story of right and wrong. The movie gains power because it is shot in black and white with a spare score; and it is not afraid to experiment as when Hud Bannon (Paul Newman) refers to Lon (Brandon de Wilde) as Fantan. The scenes of everyday Texas in the 1950s are pure Americana. This movie is as refreshing today as when I first saw it as a boy in the 1960s; and the performances have not aged.
HUD is one of the best movies I have ever seen! Based on Larry McMurtry's early novel HORSEMAN, PASS BY, it works wonderfully as a modern morality play showing the seductiveness of hedonism (as represented by the attractive and persuasive Hud (Paul Newman) vs. the human decency and duty represented by Homer Bannion (Melvyn Douglas) as they battle for the soul of the grandson, Lon (Brandon De Wilde). There is an important lesson about the destruction of society by the cheapening of our standards of admiration. I absolutely love Patricia Neal in this film! Her earthy housekeeper, Alma, steals every scene she's in! I am so happy that she won the Academy Award for this role. I can't think of anyone, male or female, who gave a better performance that year. I love her line resisting Hud's advances, "No, thanks! I've done my time with one cold-blooded bastard. I'm not looking for another."
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