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.
Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
Drifter Chance Wayne returns to his hometown after many years of trying to make it in the movies. Arriving with him is a faded film star he picked up along the way, Alexandra Del Lago. ... See full summary »
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
Old and new Texas, and America, with a searing Newman at the center
A serious drama with an existential ride and poignant ending. It is partly about the end of the Old West, if you can call it that (I think the old west still exists in many places), and about the intrusion of easy oil money into cattle ranging culture. It's also about family dynamics, with tragedies not described and sadness dripping everywhere.
The man in the middle is Paul Newman, playing Hud, and we aren't sure if he's a bitter selfish violent young man because of these past events or if he just ended up that way and helped, in his own way, cause those events. As we get to know Hud in his aimlessness (and Paul Newman is his hunky best here, so that's just fine for most people), we see this dusty dried up Texas outland and the emptiness, it seems, of life there, people always flipping on the radio or t.v. and hanging out drinking or doing chores.
Unless you handle the cattle. This is what people have done for a living there, and Hud's father is an archetype of a good, honorable, wise, and stern man. We aren't sure if his severity was really part of Hud's malaise, but it's dangled there. But in the present situation, the old man, now ailing even as he works a hard day, is a model of decency, a contrast to the egotistical and rather lazy son of his who is pretty much interested in girls and drinking. A ranching crisis (foot and mouth disease) becomes a center piece in this larger plot, and it squeezes further the tensions.
A separate element is an important one, interweaving with Hud's womanizing, and that is a housekeeper living in a cabin on the property, played by Patricia Neal. She's quite amazing as a likable, tough, and lonely woman who long ago escaped an abusive husband (and she won the Best Actress Oscar for it). She fills in as the missing friend to Hud, an absent mother to Hud's nephew who is now coming of age. And yet she isn't the wife of the old man in any way beyond doing the dishes, and so her presence acts more as a reminder of what all three of the males don't have in their lives. She carries the emotional load of the movie at times, and by the end shows one simple solution to the problems around her.
Martin Ritt has directed a number of probing, gritty, real life movies ("The Sound and the Fury" starring Newman's wife Joanne Woodward and "The Front" at opposite ends of his career). This one, along with "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," are probably his best two, also very serious. But they are also beautiful movies. In all of them there are characters with real depth and pathos. We know who we can feel for, even as the world crumbles around nearly everyone in nearly all four of these. "Hud" is filmed in such clean, bright greys and whites it really feels much more like dry old Texas than it would have in color, just as his Cold War masterpiece is charcoal and black much of the time. Cinematographer James Wong Howe, born in China and moved here when five years old, and director of music Elmer Bernstein are both Hollywood's legends with three Academy Awards between them. It shows. The movie is if nothing else very well made.
Larry McMurty wrote the original story for this movie, and also co-wrote the screenplay for "Brokeback Mountain," which shares a lot of the loneliness of the characters. The character of the housekeeper was originally a black woman, and I'm assuming this would have pressed too hard on social issues just beginning to break down in the early 1960s, so it was simplified by keeping it an all white cast. But the movie did push against certain censorship boundaries, including the simple admission (without showing it directly) of Hud having and bragging about his affair with a married woman.
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