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The movie opens with 17-year-old, wide-eyed Lonnie looking for Hud. The trail leads him past a busted up saloon and ends when he finds a married woman's high heel shoe carelessly flung on her front porch. Hud seems to have a taste for married women and a way with the bottle that the curious Lonnie finds attractive.
When they get home Homer drives them out to a freshly dead heifer. There are no bullet wounds or other signs of injury and Homer decides to call the authorities. Hud disagrees. If the heifer died of a disease it could jeopardize everything, and Hud is too close to inheriting the ranch for that. Homer has more at stake, but burying the cow without an investigation would simply be wrong. The drama proceeds from there as deliberately, and inevitably, as a Greek tragedy.
Like other epics, and HUD deals with epic themes, there are great battles. Hud Bannon battles with his father, Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas) for the heart and mind of his nephew Lonnie (Brandon de Wilde.) Hud and Lonnie battle over their "half-wild" maid Alma (Patricia Neal.)
Hud, a man of little patience, is brutally direct in his approach to Alma. The inexperienced Lonnie admires her from a gentler distance. Director Martin Ritt includes two scenes that highlight this difference. One night Hud tomcats his way into Alma's room asking for a cigarette. The experienced and wary Alma gives - Hud lights the handout and blows out the match just as Alma asks for a light.Read more ›
The supporting cast in this "character study" is nothing short of superb. Melvyn Douglas as the pious and self-righteous father is the perfect mirror image of HUD. Patricia Neal (who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) is simply outstanding as the earthy, motherly yet somewhat-still-sexy housekeeper who both HUD and Lon (Brandon De Wilde) have sexual yearnings for, but for very different reasons. James Wong Howe's cinematography is top notch and his choice of black and white film really makes this movie work - far more than it would have in color.
There are also other "small touches" that add so much to the film. When HUD picks up Patricia Neal by the side of the road with her groceries, she offers him a Fig Newton. The same effect was used again when Lon is discussing the book "From Here To Eternity" with the local drugstore owner. Not a just a "cookie" or a "book", but real pieces of "Americana" the help set the mood, tone and timeframe of the film.
There is one last item I think is worth commenting on, because it is often overlooked. That is the seeming genuine affection that HUD has for his nephew (Lon).Read more ›
"Oh, you got all that charm goin' for you, and it makes the youngsters want to be like you. That's the shame of it. Because you don't value nothin.' You don't respect nothin.' You keep no check on your appetites at all. You live just for yourself and that makes you not fit to live with."
Later, he addresses his newphew Lon who chides the man for his harsh treatment of Hud and says "Lonnie, little by little the face of the country changes because of the men we admire. You're just gonna have to make up your mind one day, about what's right and what's wrong."
This is the theme of Hud -- a youngster learning manhood from his two models -- his hedonistic, unprincipled uncle and his conservative, righteous grandfather who values integrity.
And like Peckinpah's magnificent "Wild Bunch" it is about the dying of the West. The urban, progressive Hud is fighting against the rural ways of his father. Hud wants to dig for oil but Homer won't punch holes in his sacred land. Hud wants to sell sick cows to his neighbors to avoid a government quarantine. Homer wants to follow the law.
And that is what fascinates me about this film. People who watch this film identify more with Hud. He's the lovable rascal. Some viewers genuinely like him and wonder why Lon chooses the path of his grandfather. The grandfather seems rigid, self-righteous and even quietly harsh. Yet it is the hard way which is the right way in this film. Hud has destroyed all those around him - his brother, the housekeeper and ultimately the grandfather. It is a good lesson that wrong things sometimes come in pretty packages.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great movie. Powerfully acted. One of the best older black and white movies. I have watched it a dozen times.Published 10 days ago by GWP
a classic. I didn't realize Patricia was so good in this! Paul is timeless.Published 1 month ago by sandra
This is a classic movie. I've seen it before, and just wanted to see the interaction of Patricia Neal and bad boy Paul Newman again.Published 1 month ago by W. Lincoln-Rowson
One of the great character studies of all time with a powerful cast of Newman, Douglas, Neal and de Wilde. Read morePublished 1 month ago by k. n. kane
Really a great movie, with great actors. Paul Newman plays a amoral creep perfectly. Melvin
Douglas has the best line when he says, " Little by little the look of the... Read more
I am satisfied with the quality of the movie and a big fan of Paul Newman.Published 4 months ago by Bobby Benson
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