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.
Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.
Army scout Hondo Lane (played by John Wayne) stumbles across an isolated homestead in the middle of Apache territory. The inhabitants - a woman and her son - believe they are safe, as there is a treaty with the Apaches. Lane knows better though, as the Army has just broken the treaty, causing the Apache to seek revenge on settlers. Despite being a scout for the US Army, Lane has sympathies for the Apaches, having been married to a native American woman and living with her people for five years. With divided loyalties he now has to tread a fine line.Written by
The first film shot with Warner Brothers' "All Media Camera", which was actually a two-camera rig for 3-D films that allowed more flexibility for things like camera movement and close-ups than older 3-D rigs. The name was based on the studio's claims that it could shoot 3-D or 2-D, color or black and white, standard or WarnerScope widescreen, and WarnerPhonic sound. Ultimately, WarnerScope was never used for any film, and WarnerPhonic had nothing to do with the camera rig. See more »
When Hondo is breaking the bronco he mounts the horse wearing his gun belt. No experienced rider would risk the extra pummeling this would entail. See more »
"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.
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