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.
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 »
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.
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
Martin Ritt and Elmer Bernstein make the pink Cadillac appear pink in a black & white film
When you talk about "Hud" the film, Paul Newman, Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas dominate the conversation. They are the obvious heroes--but the real heroes to me are director Ritt and music composer Bernstein. Why? Ritt makes the film come alive, not Newman. Ritt's final shot: the "hell with it" nihilistic gesture of Newman is a fabulous way to end a film--silent yet decisive. Ritt's use of Bernstein, who is used to composing grand orchestral music pieces like "The Magnificent Seven" theme, is made to evoke emotions with a sensitive composition for a couple of guitars--that is totally in line with the story-line of a single family, although presented by three generations. Ritt is clever in bringing in the music at very few occasions--not overdoing it to underscore drama/melodrama. That's Ritt of "The Outrage" (Ritt's reworking of Kurosawa's 'Rashomon' and "Edge of the City"), constantly exploring human attitudes and values, a facet of Ritt's interest in Communism that cost him dear in the McCarthy witch-hunt against anyone with a trace of Leftist sentiments.
Larry Macmurtry (scriptwriter/novelist) and Ritt are able to pit old, weatherbeaten values of two generations (grandfather and grandson) against the materialistic, unethical and hedonist values of another (son)--a black sheep that abuses and chastises his own father and yet loves and cares for him, when he is down. Ritt is always obsessed with human values ("Norma Rae","Edge of the City"), a factor most present day Hollywood directors tend to gloss over.
It is easy for a viewer to spot the swagger and bravado of Paul Newman. But Ritt focuses not merely on his lead actors, but the animals that are about to be slaughtered, the importance of appreciating "the sound of grass growing" (even the attempt to grow flowers or the line "it doesn't take long to kill things, not like it takes to grow"), and the social comment on USA ("a country run on epidemics,...price fixing, crooked TV shows, inflated expense accounts..").
Now Ritt is never negative towards USA--he is merely urging the viewer to think and be critical and come to accept the best in the available socio-political canvas. One character in the film would like to kill the buzzards, the other restrains him by saying it keeps the country clean. Who are the buzzards? The amazing aspect of Ritt's films is that he is never didactic--he leaves the viewer to choose. The film presents three sets of values represented by three generations of one family. Yet the last word seems to be with the "bad" guy. The viewer is forced to think and choose his hero. The director steps back from forcing his viewpoint on the viewer. Other directors have followed Ritt's method: William Fraker in "Monte Walsh" (1970) and Arthur Penn in "Night moves" (1975).
I saw the film on a Saudi-Arab TV channel with the aspect ratio curtailed. I wish I could have seen the film in the original 2.35:1 ratio and enjoyed the contribution of cinematographer James Wong Howe. Even on the small screen the "pink" Cadillac in B&W came alive metaphorically--spotless at the start and a wreck at the end. The Cadillac played as important a role as Newman, the beautiful Neal, and the rest of the cast. That's Ritt.
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