Tuesday, July 11, 2006



Dir: Martin Ritt (The Spy Who Came In From the Cold; Hombre; Norma Rae; Stanley and Iris)

Paul Newman is the greatest ever screen actor. I have been known to say that about James Stewart, but a recent run on Newman's films has me reconsidering that question. Hud is yet another film that showcases his power, intensity, sexuality and undeniable likeableness even while being a heel.

Philosophical Western that tells the story of three generations of ranchers. Hud is the son of a traditional man of the land, steadfast in his virtue and unwavering in his belief in doing the right thing. Hud's impressionable newphew Lonnie admires his womanizing and hard living, and the youngster stands on the precipice of making decisions that will shape his character as a man. When the family ranch faces a crisis, each man must come to grips with his ethics and his mettle.

Patricia Neal, so good in A Face in the Crowd, is again remarkable as the men's sexually frustrated housekeeper. She flirts with Hud, is desired by Lonnie, but is eventually hurt by the family's destruction. She is beautiful through her acting, and never seems to disappoint.

When Hud's faults as a man cause him to fail as things go south, Newman's acting gets a real chance to shine. He becomes frighteningly self destructive, angry, unethical, and hopeless. Hud does not shy from this tradgedy. The movie is shot with reverence and emotion, with long sunset vistas and grand sweeping looks at the wide prarie. Many memorable scenes are to be found, especially surrounding the cattle who represent love of land to the great Melvyn Douglas.

Larry McMurtry provided the source material, and also wrote the beautiful Brokeback Mountain. I have not read any of his novels, but his films certainly are powerful. I highly recommend Hud, Paul Newman with yet another expression of his genius.