Hud (1963)

The man with the barbed-wire soul.

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 too 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."

You're an unprincipled man, Hud.
Hud is directed by Martin Ritt and adapted to screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr., from the Larry McMurty novel Horsemen, Pass By. It stars Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal and Brandon de Wilde. Music is by Elmer Bernstein and cinematography by James Wong Howe.
Hud Bannon (Newman) doesn't care for much outside of himself, life is to be enjoyed by drinking, fighting, bedding women and basically anything as long as he avoids responsibility for it. This greatly upsets his father, Homer (Douglas), a very principled man who is tormented that a son of his could turn out so rotten. Troubling him still further is that his grandson, Lonnie (de Wilde) is getting closer to Hud and he's in danger of being corrupted to Hud's unprincipled ways……
I done my time with one cold blooded bastard, I'm not looking for another.
It may be filmed in Panavison, with sumptuous black and white photography by Howe (Academy Award for Best Cinematography), but this is a dry dust bowl set drama, one that is thriving on dialogue and propelled by a mean spirited protagonist. Film is essentially a four character piece, with those four characters confined to small town Americana and a family ranch that is going under now that the livestock has contracted deadly foot and mouth disease. Bannon's senior and junior battle it out for the soul of young Lonnie, with Patricia Neal's smouldering older woman house keeper simultaneously playing mother, wife and potential girlfriend to all three Bannon men. It's a hot-pot combination given great edginess by the Ravetch and Frank screenplay. There's very little action, except some brief bar room brawling and speedy car driving, but there's terrific literary drama in the narrative. As Hud Bannon strips off each self-absorbed layer, so the film shifts up another gear.
Old people get as hard as their arteries sometimes.
Be warned, this is no happy picture. This is not a case where the supremely handsome face of Paul Newman will ultimately warm your heart, picture is dealing in grimness and there is trouble waiting for everyone involved. Even Bernstein's score is on the reflective side of the fence, tenderly blending with Howe's melancholic images captured in and around this small Texas town. The four principal actors turn in wonderful performances, with Neal winning an Academy Award for Best Actress (though it's a relatively small role!) and Douglas also winning for Best Supporting Actor. Nominations went to Newman for Best Actor, Ritt for Best Director and also the screenplay and art direction was up for awards as well. As a production and execution of a moody story, Hud is up with the best of them. That is if you don't mind sombre dialogue driven stories? 8/10

Paramount by Martin Ritt, Irving Ravetch, Harriet Frank Jr., Larry McMurtry.
Stars: Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal, Brandon De Wilde.

Genres: Drama, Western

Keywords: based on novel or book rodeo texas ranch alcoholism ranchers rancher rebellious youth housekeeper neo-western hero worship


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