160 of 178 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2004
I have certainly seen much worse Western movies all ready out on DVD. I wish this great one was available on DVD (When I wrote this it wasn't). I caught it on TV this weekend during a John Wayne marathon of movies. The acting, sets, directing, scenery, and music all stand out on this one. Many critics think "The Searchers" is great but although I think it is a wonderfully shot movie I don't think the interaction is as believable as "Hondo". The cast here does a wonderful job of making me believe what is happening and that I'm with them in that time period. John Furrow must have worked hard directing to get such results.
The attitude towards Indians is much more appropriate as well. The camera work is excellent. Especially good with wide scenic shots and close-ups of the actors. The directing as I said before is excellent, and the scope of acting in this movie is some of the best I have seen in a John Wayne movie or any Western for that matter. Geraldine Page is great as the Duke's love interest. She does a magnificent job portraying a pioneer woman. Ward Bond, Michael Pate, James Arness, and the rest the cast do a fine job supporting. I hope you get the opportunity to see it. I'm sure you will agree it is a top notch Western and it should be on DVD.
As an addendum I want to thank the studio for finally releasing a wonderful quality DVD with several extras. This is a personal favorite and I want to thank those of you nice enough to vote for my review. It is people like you showing an interest in these classics that prompts the studios to do a proper job of restoring the movies and releasing them on DVD.
70 of 78 people found the following review helpful
John Wayne stars as Hondo Lane, a half-Indian message carrier and gunslinger in New Mexico. He first shows up at the ranch of Mrs. Angie Lowe after getting away from Apache attackers. This takes place in the ending days of the "Indian round-up" years, when only a few bands of Apache were left. Hondo takes a liking to Angie and her young son, but soon heads out to deliver the message.
In the meantime, the Apache have always been fond of Mrs. Lowe and had a good relationship with her - and the chief takes a personal interest in her son. He tries to convince Angie to choose a new husband from amongst his braves. She insists that her husband will be back soon to stay on the remote ranch with her.
Hondo runs into the wayward husband in a bar, only learning his name after punching him out. In an attempt to get the husband back to his wife, Hondo takes the man's horse and says that Mr. Lowe can retrieve it at the ranch. Angry, Lowe pays a guy to go with him after Hondo. Apaches attack and kill the paid bodyguard, and Hondo shoots an Apache to save Lowe's life. Lowe repays Hondo by attempting to shoot him in the back. Hondo is forced to kill him. He takes Lowe's tintype of Lowe's son to bring back to the mom.
Along the way, the Apaches find Hondo and are about to torture him to death when the Apache chief recognizes the tintype. Hondo still has to fight - and triumph over - the brother of the Apache he killed. The Apache chief brings Hondo back to Mrs. Lowe, who claims Hondo as her husband in order to get him in away from the Apaches. Hondo tries several times to tell Angie what happened, but each time she doesn't want to hear it. She does end up hearing the truth from someone else, but when Hondo then attempts to tell the boy, Angie refuses to let him do it. She scolds Hondo that his need for the truth is so great that he'd damage the boy's sense of well being and security to achieve it.
The movie is a rather complex story, based almost exactly on the story by Louis L'Amour. John Wayne loved the story so much that he specifically hired a favorite script writer to adapt it into a movie for him. It was filmed to be watched in 3D, so there are several scenes with knives poking at the screen and people standing in the foreground. You might think this would make the movie look cheesy, but really you're normally lost in the storyline or the gorgeous landscapes.
This movie came out in 1953 and for an era that saw many "slaughter the Indians" movies, it's pretty impressive in its even handedness. Angie likes the Apaches and has been friends with them since childhood. Hondo is a half Indian, and had an Apache wife while he lived with them for 5 years. You get treated to many scenes with Apaches speaking in their native Apache tongue. Hondo makes it pretty clear that the only reason that the Apache are rising up are that the US government has been actively deceiving them and betraying them. He explains that the Apache are very much against lying, and that he is the same way.
Compared to many other westerns, this does a reasonably good job of showing shades of grey, not just 'Good' and 'Bad'. The Apaches were pushed into the war, but they're prepared to kill an innocent woman who has lived on this land from birth. The settlers are sometimes obnoxious about their desire to get rid of the "natives". In the end, Hondo says that he imagines this will be the end of the Apache way of life, and that it's a shame.
65 of 72 people found the following review helpful
HONDO is a solid Western in the best tradition of the genre. Based on the story "The Gift of Cochise" by Louis L'Amour, John Wayne brings the character Hondo Lane to the screen juxtaposed with his familiar screen presence yet true to L'Amour's spirit of the literary "Western." James Edward Grant's script is impressively sympathetic to the American Indian given the period when this film was produced. Geraldine Page as Angie is perfectly naïve as the homesteader living alone with her son in the open wilderness of rock and dust (artistically captured by Robert Burks' cinematography). However, it is John Wayne's portrayal as the enigmatically tough yet unemotionally tender survivor of this barren country that is the strength of this film. The music for HONDO is credited to both Emil Newman and Hugo Friedhofer and their impressive melody for HONDO majestically reflects the honorable and brave stature of the man.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2006
It was altogether appropriate that John Wayne should make a film in the briefly popular stereoscopic process that Hollywood adopted in the early 1950's to compete with television...and it's all the more appropriate that the one 3-D film he made was a western. Of course, the popularity of 3-D only lasted about a year and by the time this film was released (in late 1953) it was only shown in 3-D in a few theaters; most people saw it in conventional 35 milimeter.
Anyone who has seen surviving 3-D prints of such films, including this writer, can attest to their incredible visual impact, particularly the ones that didn't rely on the usual gimmicks of throwing or pointing things at the cameras. "Hondo" has a few instances of pointing knives or guns at the cameras, but the film generally avoids the gimmicks that may have contributed to the demise of the 3-D fad. Of course, there were always those who complained about having to wear special glasses to watch 3-D movies.
Overall, this is very impressive production throughout. It is tightly paced and has numerous exciting scenes, along with more tender and even humorous moments. Based on a Louis L'Amour story, adapted by John Wayne's longtime friend James Edward Grant, this is one of the more intriguing westerns that Wayne made. Director John Farrow, actress Mia Farrow's father, was able to keep things moving during the film's 83 minutes.
One of the more remarkable aspects is that the film is more sympathetic toward Native Americans than in most films of the time, perhaps because John Wayne's character is admittedly part Apache. One is intrigued and even amused to discover that the Indian chief is played by an Australian actor, Michael Pate, but makeup and his effective acting make his portrayal effective and believable. Pate is among the living actors interviewed for "The Making of Hondo," one of the special features included on this DVD. He recalls the decision to cast him as the chief and his own amazement that it worked.
Filmed mostly in the the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, the color photography is vivid and impressive. One marvels at the fact that Warner Brothers was using the bulky, cumbersome stereoscopic cameras, which often had to be hand-carried by several men from location to location.
John Wayne produced the film through the company that he named Batjac, enjoying a good business arrangement with the legendary Jack Warner. Leonard Maltin, known for his books on Hollywood and regular appearances on "Entertainment Tonight," notes in his excellent introduction that Warner believed that ALL movies should be made in 3-D. Given the periodic return of films in 3-D and the realistic effects of such productions, this writer has often thought that it would be a good idea to continue making films with the stereoscopic process.
The film features appearances by two of John Wayne's closest friends, Ward Bond and James Arness. John Wayne and Ward Bond played football at the University of Southern California and were discovered by director John Ford, who gave them part-time jobs during his productions and sometimes used them in bit parts. (Ford even directed a few of the scenes in "Hondo" because Farrow had to return to Hollywood to work another film.) There is a special tribute on the DVD to Bond, who became known to millions of Americans as the beloved wagonmaster on NBC's "Wagon Train" in the late 1950's. Bond died suddenly in late 1960 from a heart attack, after appearing in hundreds of motion pictures. He was often a crusty, rough character who, nevertheless, could be loveable and entertaining.
James Arness also worked with John Wayne in "Island in the Sky" and when Arness debuted on CBS television series "Gunsmoke," Wayne introduced the very first episode in 1955. This came after Wayne had declined an invitation from CBS to star on the show. They remained friends for many years.
Long unavailable, "Hondo" remains a thoroughly entertaining and exciting film and it has never looked or sounded better than in this digitally restored version.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2006
I was going to wait until this was available on widescreen until I did some research on the web and found out that this DVD is in the original aspect radio of the film, so this is "as good as it gets".
I couldn't find anywhere, where Amazon indicates this.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2001
Hondo desparately needs a new transfer to DVD, but this is an often overlooked important part of the Western genre. When I first saw it in 1953 I was impressed by the story, the qualities of the Hondo and Indian characters. There's plenty of conflict, but what's most interesting is the change that takes place among the characters, accomplished by James Edward Grant's script. I hated to see Lane's dog die and I named my first dog after him. Page is a refreshing change from the ingenues of that period, who tended to be more good looking than the times and environment would suggest. Of course it's a West that never was, but all movies suffer from that error. The real West was mostly dull, difficult and dirty. But L'Amour's stories tend to be more about character than action, and Hondo is no exception. Finally, this movie marks a subtle but important milestone for Wayne. His subsequent movies were much more about complex and flawed characters than his prior work. This movie marks his first move in that direction and that alone makes it an important acquisition for collectors.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2001
Customer reviews of Hondo seem to bounce from "great" to "poor." It appears that most of the criticism, other than some editing, is caused by the fact that this is an early 1950's western. Come on folks, of course the Duke is freshly shaven all the time, Page's cabin looks spotless, etc. It was made in the 1950's!!! This sort of "lack of realism" complaint could be directed at virtually every western made up to the time and of many others after. .... The action is excellent, even for a Wayne action movie, certainly better than some of his higher profile "Indian" westerns such as Ft. Apache and even Rio Grande and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. The tension and suspense waiting for the Apaches to come over the rise is palpable thoughout the movie. .... Acosta succeeds in this film as one of the most convincing of evil villains ever to appear in a western. .... If you don't have it, get it. You'll enjoy it a lot.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2000
Based on a Louis L'Armour novel this movie contains a pretty standard western plot: a frontier scout risks his life during an Indian uprising. It is notable for the fact this is one of those John Wayne films that is rarely shown on TV, and only became available on video four or five years ago. It also is a western that marks the development of a more sympathetic attitude towards the American Indians by Hollywood. Make no mistake the Duke and the cavalry are presented as the good guys; but their opponents, the Apaches, fight because the whites broke the treaty. The Apache leader,Victorio, mourns the loss of his sons killed by whites, and even Duke's Hondo remarks that the Apache way is a "good way of life."
I have to agree with an earlier review that the direction is a little spotty. The screen sometimes blacks out between scenes which gives the impression that the film is about to go into a commericial break! However, the action scenes are fantastic especially the Duke's barroom brawl, the blood-right duel, and the thrilling chase from the Apaches. The ending, though, is cliched with the settlers circling their wagons and the Apaches obligingly riding around them just begging to be shot. Overall, this is a very entertaining, and fast-paced western.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2012
Yes, The Movie itself is a great work but the picture quality from this Blu Ray Version shows almost no difference from that of DVD. Personally disappointed in this point very much. it doesn't seem to have the remastered process for this blu ray. So
Personally Hondo [Blu-ray]I think it's not necessary to buy this blu ray version expecting better picture quality if you already have the dvd of this movie.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2000
A great Duke classic. More action than most of his other movies. Im surprised I dont hear more about this one when people talk about their favortie Wayne movies. Indian attacks, knife fights, bar fights, and plenty of quotable Duke lines. I agree the editing was choppy but this is now one of my favorites. Highly recommended.