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A Hard Western Look
terencebells20 April 2018
I knew I had seen it, I had a black and white James Wong Howe Cinemascope memory and Paul Newman's body language. How he walks, how he stands. I remember thinking that Jake Gyllenhaal had borrowed that physicality for his character in "Brokeback Mountain" and I just realized that Larry McMurtry is the author of both "Brokeback Mountain" and "Hud". He provides us with a look into the modern cowboy that is not only unique but mesmerizing. Paul Newman's Hud is a cad and yet you feel we sense that behind the bravado hides a desperate man looking for something. Something personal and unspoken. Hud is one of my favorite Newman performances. Soulless and yet needy. Is it a coincidence that the only woman that"got away" from Hud is named Alma? - Alma in Spanish means soul - Alma is played by Patricia Neal with power and humanity and she won the Oscar for it. Melvyn Douglas also won the Oscar for his superb performance and Brandon de Wilde deserved one of his own. He is extraordinary. Hud has become an important film in my life and in future viewings in years to come I may discover why.
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The film that crashed Newman into the top echelon..
Nazi_Fighter_David10 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
The title character, a cattleman in contemporary Texas, is the quintessence of Newman's amoral, opportunistic loners: he's arrogant, seething with ambition, incapable of much warmth or affection… He quarrels, drinks heavily, takes women with crude assurance ("The only question I ever ask any woman is 'What time is your husband coming home?' "), and doesn't give a damn about anyone except himself…

Newman brings his familiar characteristics to perfection: the cynical, cold in manner; the nasty, contemptuous voice; the sly, insinuating smile… He's a model of casual defiance and detachment, as he drinks a pint of bourbon or stands insolently, hands on hips, hat down low over his forehead, or roars through the dusty town in his convertible Cadillac, making business deals or picking up loose women...

Hud resembles Ben Quick, which isn't surprising, since director Martin Ritt and writers Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. also did "The Long, Hot Summer." Like Quick, he is considerably sexy and charming, which attracts women and drinking buddies… He's the best example of Newman's idea of the glamorous, captivating, virile, but essentially rotten men we mistakenly admire; according to Newman, the film is meant to expose his underlying corruption…

The drama revolves around the discovery of Hud's amorality by Lon (Brandon de Wilde), his seventeen-year-o1d nephew… Lon admires his uncle, but is ultimately torn between Hud's hedonism and the high moral principles of Hud's father, aging Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas).

When Homer's cattle become diseased, Hud wants to sell them quickly, but Homer refuses to spread an epidemic, and has them destroyed… Hud really becomes despicable as he tries to have his father certified incompetent, so that he can take over the ranch… Like Chance Wayne ("Sweet Bird of Youth"), he's afraid of ending up in poverty: "You don't look out for yourself, the only helping hand you'll ever get is when they lower the box."

Whereas Quick turned out to be a good guy after all, and Fast Eddie and Chance matured through pain and punishment, Hud is untouched and unregenerate to the very end… Refusing to accept his guilt, he says he's only as corrupt as everyone else; before he goes into the house, he angrily yells, "The world's so full of crap a man's going to get into it sooner or later, whether he's careful or not. "

Many people considered Hud a hero… But this is natural, since the film is actually filled with compromises… For instance, Homer, the representative of goodness, is self-righteous, inflexible, full of solemn, pious platitudes, and generally unappealing, while Hud is vital, life-affirming and humorous… Furthermore, Homer's contempt for Hud, which he justifies by Hud's having never given a damn, seems unfair… Apparently he soured on Hud when the latter was in his teens, and thus the boy was denied love when he most needed it… This again brings up the father-son alienation theme, and it makes us sympathetic toward Hud…

Even in his relations with others, Hud is not entirely despicable… He displays some tenderness toward Lon, especially in the scene in which they get drunk together… There's a touching moment as Hud says, somewhat sadly, "Get all the good you can out of seventeen, because it sure wears out in one hell of a hurry." In his cynical conversations with Alma, he has Quick's insolent sexual confidence, but Alma is experienced, earthy and just as cynical, and she even seems to encourage his sly innuendos, making it a match of equals rather than a one-sided sexual pursuit…

Finally, how does an actor play a man whose overpowering charm attracts people, without attracting the audience as well? Of course this is a problem inherent in all of Newman's sexy villains, but at least with Quick and Eddie the charming traits prepare us for their reformations, while with Hud they work against the concept of his worthlessness… At this stage in his career, Newman was so appealing that it was hard to consider him as completely rotten…

"Hud" was nominated for seven Oscars… Awards went to Neal, Douglas and cinematographer James Wong Howe… Newman, up for his third Oscar, said, "I'd like to see Sidney Poitier get it. I'd be proud to win it for a role I really had to reach for." He got his wish: Poitier ("Lilies of the Field") won… In any case, "Hud" found Newman near the top of his form, and it was a culmination of the "seed of corruption" theme… To be sure, subsequent characters would be corrupt, and would coldly reject the world, but never as a result of such intense ambition
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Great American prose poem
zetes13 September 2002
One Hell of a movie, and very nearly perfect. Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, and Brandon De Wilde star as three generations of a ranching family. Douglas is the patriarch, stern and strong, but clearly moving ever closer to the end of his life. Paul Newman, who plays the title character, is his youngest and only surviving son. There is an obvious but unspoken conflict between the two of them. In the middle is Brandon De Wilde, actually the film's main character (although all the choice acting moments belong to Douglas and Newman, and the yet to be mentioned Patricia Neal). His father, Newman's brother, died when he was very young. Growing up in Douglas' shadow, he worships the man and tries to emulate his moral code. However, his wilder side sees the untamed Newman as a sort of folk hero, and the rare times when he gets to hang out with his uncle seem to him to be the best of his life. Patricia Neal plays their maid (brilliantly, I should immediately state), after whom both uncle and nephew lust. A different conflict arises from this. As Hud, Paul Newman has many chances to be a second James Dean, exploding with emotion. Those scenes are excellent, of course, but where Hud succeeds most is at the edges of the screen. It is an enormously subtle film. The filmmakers should especially be commended for their amazing use of musical score. There is a really beautiful score, but it is never used, not once, to steer the audience's emotions. A good 90% of the film has no music in the background. Hud is an American masterpiece. 10/10.
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"You're An Unprincipled Man, Hud."
stryker-523 January 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Hud Bannon is a hell-raising cowboy with a pink cadillac who lives on a lonely farm with his old father and his teenage nephew. There is a glaring mismatch between Hud's playboy inclinations and the dour, empty life of the farm. A traumatic event brings these family tensions to a head.

The broad flat expanses of the Texas cow country are captured evocatively in Panavision. This is a world of open cattle range, small sleepy towns, screen doors, stetsons and tooled-leather boots. The land is arid and unforgiving, and the life here is hard. Farmers pass their evenings sitting on plain wooden porches, listening to the whipoorwills, and the youngsters rent the same old pulp novels at the general store. Elmer Bernstein's elegantly simple score underlines the starkness of this existence. Country music bleeds from juke boxes and transistor radios, as bland and omnipresent as the dust, creeping into every crevice of the film.

Hud is a fine-looking man with undeniable charm, but he is also a cruel, selfish stud. He is now 34 years old, and his years of drinking, fighting and womanising are beginning to take on the aspect of a wasted life. The opening moments of the film show young Lonnie (Brandon de Wilde) scouring the town streets in the early morning light, searching for his Uncle Hud. We get to know Hud by the trail of destruction he has left in his wake. A bar owner, sweeping up broken glass, tells Lonnie "I had Hud in here is what I had." A woman's high-heel shoe, abandoned on the garden path, tells Lonnie exactly where his uncle spent the night.

Running around with married women is Hud's style. It is an affront to this close-knit conservative community, and an emotional and biological dead-end.

"I always say, the law was meant to be interpreted in a lenient manner" pronounces Hud, who bends every rule to suit his own inclination. He avoids the anger of a cuckolded husband by shifting the blame to the innocent Lonnie, and when a serious problem arises with the family herd, Hud wants to sell the cattle quickly, aiming to preserve his own wealth and pass the problem on to others. His father Homer (Mervyn Douglas) is a man of unimpeachable honesty, and we see a glance pass between him and Hud which tells us everything. Father and son know each other's true worth.

It surprises Hud that Homer should seek his opinion on the cattle problem. For a long time now, the old man has been running the farm without Hud taking any responsibility. "He didn't ask me about anything in fifteen years." Gradually, we begin to learn about a family tragedy which has irrevocably alienated the two men.

The pig-chasing game at the rodeo is an ironic comment on skirt-chasing, and of course Hud wins the prize. He has the confident swagger and the jaunty-hipped stance of a man who knows he is pleasing to women. His sexual banter with Alma runs through the film. Alma admires Hud sexually, but his interest in her is limited to mere conquest. In pursuing her he flouts the rules of taste and decency (she is an employee, almost family, and he is brutal towards her). This is prefigured when he arrogantly parks his cadillac on her flower bed.

Alma keeps house for the Bannons. She enjoys the masculine atmosphere and takes the coarse innuendo with good-natured amusement. Patricia Neame plays Alma with a loose-limbed, barefoot sexiness which ultimately brings her trouble. She has flirtatious fun with Lonnie and confesses to being aroused sexually by Hud's torso. When Homer tells Lonnie that women like to be around dangerous men, Alma leans into shot. However, Alma the divorcee has no illusions about Hud - "I done my time with one cold-blooded bastard," she says. "I'm not looking for another."

The film is packed with wonderful images. As Lonnie crosses the dusty street, his upper body is obscured by the rodeo banner, suggesting that his individuality is being compromised by the hard round of rural life, the unending interplay of sun and dirt. The slanting tree with its ominous burden of buzzards frames the pick-up truck, presaging trouble. Homer and the vet, discussing cattle in the foreground, bracket the distant Hud. He is diminished and marginalised by these serious cattlemen. Gates close on the farm, with quarantine signs attached, showing more eloquently than any words how Homer's world is narrowing and darkening. A bulldozer traverses the screen from left to right, effecting a 'wipe', leaving the three Bannons alone against the dirt, in an emblem of the devastation the government has visited upon them. As they gaze into the pit, the bulldozer squats above them in triumph. Hud is 'enclosed' by the angle of his cadillac's door, just as his life is hemmed in by his shallow hedonism. At the depot Alma's body is framed by Hud's hat and chest, hinting at his oppressive sexuality. The two of them are caught fleetingly in the rectangle of the bus door, Alma symbolically shown as 'the one that got away'.

The slick, sardonic script is first class, and the film is bursting with symbolic resonances. Homer carries a picture of his long-dead boy in his wallet, but none of Hud, his living son. The cattle are trapped in a timber chute, symbolising the claustrophobic existence of the humans. The sexual violence is played out in panting silence - these people have nothing to say to each other. Homer's longhorns were once the source of everything good - food, clothing, tools. Now they are harbingers of pestilence. At the heart of the farm is the water butt, and Lonnie and Hud bond here after their night of carousal. Later, when Lonnie rejects Hud, the butt stands between them.

Lonnie knows he will ultimately have to choose between right and wrong. In the windswept silence of the farm, emblem of the family's demise, he makes his choice.
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Hard to take but worth it
blanche-21 December 2006
It's difficult to grasp that Melvyn Douglas spent most of his career sailing through light, romantic roles and emerged in old age as one of the greatest actors in cinema history. Knowing the talent he possessed, how did he keep from killing the heads of the studios? Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal, and Brandon de Wilde star in "Hud," an unsparing 1963 morality story about a Texas rancher, Homer Bannon, his bastard son, Hud, his housekeeper, and his grandson. The bastard, of course, is Paul Newman, who doesn't have a decent bone in his body. People on this board have said it's his greatest performance. He's given so many great ones, it's hard to say for me. An astounding actor, and he gets a run for his money from Douglas, who plays the moral center of the story.

The two characters couldn't be more opposite, as one sees in their treatment of a potential run of hoof and mouth disease that could wipe out Homer's entire herd. Hud wants to ship the whole herd out and possibly infect other people's cattle - he couldn't care less. Homer won't hear of it.

If you love animals, this is a difficult film to watch, but it's worth it. Melvyn Douglas is absolutely gut-wrenching as Homer, a proud man who loves the land and his cattle and who has no use for his son, who smashed his car and killed Homer's other son. de Wilde is Hud's nephew who admires him and wants to emulate him but as time goes by, realizes that Hud is made of ice. de Wilde doesn't give an emotional performance - he's almost more of an observer. It works well here amidst the very contained Douglas and the free and easy Newman. You can see he's a good kid trying to grow up and decide what kind of man to be.

Patricia Neal is the housekeeper; she and Douglas both deservingly won Oscars. Her delivery is wry and knowing; she can't help being attracted to the virile Hud but she knows he's trouble and never gives in to her desires willingly.

As much as I love Newman and think he's one of the greatest actors ever to hit the movies, for me, Douglas' searing performance is the one that will stay with me. It's easy to see why in 1963 this was such a dramatic breakthrough for Newman, but 43 years and many roles later, we're more familiar with what he can do. We know he can play a cold bastard now. His greatest performances for me will always be those in the "The Verdict" and "The Hustler," both of which called for many more nuances of character. Hud represents '60s disillusionment - which as the decade went on was only going to get worse; this is one of the reasons it is an iconic role. For me, Newman had more surprises in store.

Brilliant performances, excellent direction, stark photography, Hud is a great American film, not easily forgotten once seen.
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Potent study of nihilistic youth and hero worship, Paul Newman's definitive rebel role.
gbrumburgh7 March 2001
Not only a stark morality tale brimming with grit and substance, "Hud" is a vigorous character study replete with intelligent, Oscar-winning performances.

The vast, desolate "Lone Star" landscape has often inspired potent Hollywood screen-writing (witness "Giant," and "The Last Picture Show"). 1963's "Hud" is no exception. The story focuses around a bored, aimless, arrogant ne'er-do-well whose utter contempt for humanity threatens to denigrate and destroy all those exposed to it. Thrust in a dusty, dried-up, decaying Texas cattle town (awesomely photographed in black-and-white by Oscar-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe), the story bears down assertively on its straightforward themes of nihilistic youth and misguided hero worship.

Paul Newman was awarded an Oscar - but not for "Hud." He took home the award much later for his performance in 1987's "The Color of Money" but for me it was a restitutive pat on the back for his probing, higher-calibre work here in "Hud," among others. Newman gives an assured, excitingly reckless performance, the creme of the crop of earlier, jaunty perfs. All swagger and bluff, reeking with cocky sexuality, Hud Bannon is the personification of cool, callous cynicism at its most reprehensible...and alluring. The world is this cowboy stud's oyster. He takes what he wants, whenever he wants it - whether its coveting his father's land or coveting another man's wife, whether its peddling sick cattle on others or peddling his ethics on a susceptive boy - it's all at the core of a dangerously irresponsible life's dogma. A loser's warped vision of winning. It was a risky star performance for Newman as Hud has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but the actor plays out his acting cards brilliantly and winds up with a royal flush.

Newman is bolstered by a choice cast. Dusky-voiced Patricia Neal, whose looks had begun to harden by this time, is fascinating as the forlorn, slovenly housekeeper Alma who has her careworn hands full just keeping the lustful, roving Hud in line. Hud (and the audience) is perked by her stifled but not yet snuffed out sensuality, as she wisely avoids the obvious come-ons tossed her way. Making relative peace with her lonely, desultory existence, Alma has overcome a difficult past and find a sense of being as the makeshift homemaker to an aging rancher/widower (Melvyn Douglas) while tending to his impressionable grandson (Brandon de Wilde), instilling in the boy some good old-fashioned sense and motherly attention when necessary. Neal is top-notch especially in her final scenes and quite deserved her Oscar.

Oscar-winning Douglas is superb as Hud's upstanding, uncompromising father, a cattle man in the twilight of his years. Chocked full of conventional wisdom and righteous indignation, the prideful old-timer may or may not have contributed to his son's acute moral letdown, having given up on him as a "bad seed" long ago. Their confrontational scenes are pocked with harsh accusations and bitter conflict - never to be resolved. De Wilde, in a coming-of-age extension of his memorable "Shane" role, again portrays the embodiment of idolizing youth as the teenage Lon. Drawn to the brawling, good-looking "outer package" of his older Uncle Hud, deWilde is touching as his character gradually wises up to the realization that this superficial "package" is damaged goods, while those nearest and dearest to him fall by the waste side.

A near-classic to be sure. The performances alone make this a not-to-be-missed item.
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Forget Paul Newman and focus on Melvyn Douglas
krdement18 July 2007
As a native of West Texas, I think this film is one of the finest in American cinema. You don't watch a movie - you experience a real time and place. I happen to love a bunch of Paul Newman's films (The 3 H's - Hud, Hombre and Harper; Cool Hand Luke; The Sting; The Hustler; The Color of Money...), but I'm not what you'd call a rabid fan. I think he is compelling, but has a fairly limited range. He is perfect in this role, but it isn't much different from The Hustler or Cool Hand Luke. However, watching Melvyn Douglas is like watching somebody that Marty Ritt pulled off of some ranch and filmed in his daily life. His performance is absolutely dead- on. The gravelly drawl, the old boy shuffle, his expression - the way his eyes take in the landscape or gaze intently into a bowl of ice cream while Hud talks - all incredibly REAL! I KNOW those old guys!

Melvyn Douglas is a truly under-appreciated American acting genius whose career spanned over 5 decades. His range is tremendous. This is the same honey-tongued actor who is the perfect comic foil to Garbo's Ninotchka in the '30's (In fact, he is one of her only REPEAT leading men!) And his bluster-filled performance in I Never Sang for My Father (with another modern great, Gene Hackman) is also out of this world! Other commentators have addressed Hud's multi-faceted story and the incredible B&W cinematography. All wonderful - but the next time you watch this true American classic, focus on Douglas' Oscar-winning performance. You will be amazed! (And remind yourself of some of the early roles in romantic comedies - Ninotchka, That Uncertain Feeling, This Thing Called Love or Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House - this same actor performed so well.)
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Best cold blooded bastard ever
terdcicle14 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Hud is a masterpiece!It takes the age old morality play and presents it in a fresh and believable light.The lead character has no socially redeeming qualities,in direct conflict with the high moral Stoddard's of his father.

Paul Newman is flawless,and once said,"playing Hud came too easy".The cinematography is pristine and the sets bring you west.The solo guitar that plays in the background is subtle yet keeps you rapt with attention.

The ending is logical and thought provoking.It is not one that has been tested on focus groups as Hollywood insists on today.There are no last minute plot twists to make for a happy ending.

Sadly the days of movies of this quality coming from big studios are over.Cherish this one.
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A brilliantly evocative character study set against an arid Texas backdrop.
T-Gore15 July 2006
Paul Newman gave easily his greatest performance as Hud Bannen, the hard-fighting, hard-drinking, womanising ne'er-do-well, who casts a malign shadow over the lives of his family and their housekeeper on a Texas ranch. It is a strong all-round cast however, and Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal both won Academy Awards for their performances. The sparse and grainy cinematography by James Wong Howe (another Oscar winner) brilliantly captures the harsh, arid Texas landscape. Adapted from Larry McMurtry's novel Horseman Pass By, this is one of the finest examples of American Cinema in the 1960's, not least in its depiction of father-son conflict, and the way one in which one man can profoundly influence, for the worse, the lives of those around him. Newman worked as a ranch-hand in Texas to prepare for the role, which helped him obtain his authentic Texan credentials, most notably his accent, and his cocky strut and manner. A timeless classic, which can be viewed again and again.
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Powerful Modern Western Morality Play
dmwhite5030 April 2007
HUD is one of the best movies I have ever seen! Based on Larry McMurtry's early novel HORSEMAN, PASS BY, it works wonderfully as a modern morality play showing the seductiveness of hedonism (as represented by the attractive and persuasive Hud (Paul Newman) vs. the human decency and duty represented by Homer Bannion (Melvyn Douglas) as they battle for the soul of the grandson, Lon (Brandon De Wilde). There is an important lesson about the destruction of society by the cheapening of our standards of admiration. I absolutely love Patricia Neal in this film! Her earthy housekeeper, Alma, steals every scene she's in! I am so happy that she won the Academy Award for this role. I can't think of anyone, male or female, who gave a better performance that year. I love her line resisting Hud's advances, "No, thanks! I've done my time with one cold-blooded bastard. I'm not looking for another."
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Man running head into wall
Pamsanalyst24 November 2004
In another review of Hud, someone says that he or she saw all the story needed from the first fifteen minutes, but that is the great art of this film. No one changes; there is no moment when Hud is struck down like Saul, on his way to town, and shown the error of his ways. He and Homer continue to butt their heads against the proverbial wall. Homer doesn't magically revive as he lays by the side of the road, and there is no phony deathbed reconciliation. One shudders to think of the mess that would be made out of this story today. Inspirational music would pour from the speakers; Hud would promise to do well by his father and on returning home from the funeral, he would find Patricia Neal had returned, while deWilde and he agreed to work the ranch together. Sometimes I wonder if director Ritt chose black and white so he would not be tempted to close the story on a more upbeat note.

It is a debatable question whether Hud, or McMurtry's other masterpiece, Last Picture Show, could be made today. Studios don't like 'downers;' they don't fill the multiplexes and bring in the 50M gross weekends.

The casting is inspired; Newman and deWilde do look like the offspring of Douglas. Maybe it's the cowboy hats that do it, but there is a flintiness to their eyes that binds them. Neal is simply beautiful in a way that many will never understand. Watch the performances, and note how each person makes room for the others. There is only four of them, so it is not an ensemble, but Newman is especially good at avoiding the scenery chewing that so many posters here confuse with good acting.

This rates a true 10.
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Vintage McMurtry.
TOMASBBloodhound13 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Long before he helped write the screenplay for the "gay cowboy movie", Larry McMurtry wrote this exceptional story that Martin Ritt turned into a powerful film. Hud is the story of a womanizing cowboy with seemingly zero morality (Newman) and his struggles with is old-fashioned father (Douglas), and also his effect on a younger nephew (De Wilde). He also spends a great deal of the film pursuing the family housekeeper (Neal) to no avail. The film is like a lot of Larry McMurtry stories. It's lonely, depressing, and brutally honest about its characters.

At the film's core is the conflict between young and old. The changing values of American society at the time are a perfect backdrop, though no counter culture references are present yet. 1963 was of course the year we lost John F. Kennedy, and it may be no coincidence that values throughout the world also began to waver about then. Hud represents the lusty side of humanity. Never concerned about doing what's right, he only looks to scheme and charm his way to where he wants to go. Torn between Hud and his father is the much younger nephew who is faced with a choice of which set of values to follow.

A main source of conflict stems from the discovery of Foot and Mouth Disease in the Bannon's cattle. In a particularly disturbing scene, the entire herd is corralled into a recently dug pit, and every one of them shot dead. Hud had tried to convince his father to sell them off before the diagnosis was confirmed, but naturally that did not go over too well. Once the cattle are dead, Hud then wants his father to set up some oil rigs on the now barren land. His father wants no part of what could be a very destructive undertaking on his property. Hud then plans to have his father somehow declared unfit to run the farm so he can run it the way he pleases. This question is abruptly cleared up when a roadside accident takes his father's life. Hud now has the farm to himself, but will his nephew choose to run it with him??? The acting, scenery, and photography are brilliant. The bleak, but beautifully expansive west Texas landscape seems to have a life of its own, even in b/w. The four major characters are played perfectly. Neal is sassy, sexy, and has an amazing dignity about her. Douglas is stoic and self-righteous as the aging patriarch. Brandon De Wild showed some definite promise, especially in the film's final ten minutes where we see his character have to grow up very quickly.

This is Newman's show, however. One day when he has finally left this earth, most people will probably remember him as Cool Hand Luke. Understandable, but Hud was every bit a powerful a character for my money. Newman has been so amazing for so long, it almost seems like he's taken for granted. Even his salad dressings and spaghetti sauces are exceptional!!! Hud certainly scores a 10 of 10!!! The Hound.
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My Favorite Paul Newman film
Polo5 December 1999
This is my favorite Paul Newman film. Paul gives his best performance as a low-life, hard-drinking, don't-give-a-damn s.o.b. He is absolutely beautiful in this movie with a presence that makes you not want to turn your head from the screen. Melvin Douglas gives an outstanding and Oscar winning performance as Old Homer Bannon. Patricia Neal won a Best Actress Oscar for her fine performance even though her character was really a supporting role, but let's not get technical. And ill-fated Brandon De Wilde is also truly amazing and beautiful as Lon who adores his Uncle Hud only to hate him later.

4 Stars
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a fine American movie
acrosley-114 January 2006
Hud is the finest American movie ever made. One hundred years from now people will want to know who we were, how we lived and what kind of problems we faced. Hud is a great movie not only because it is a great story with great actors, great direction and a great score but also because it helps future generations understand us. It is a great human interest story, a classic story of right and wrong. The movie gains power because it is shot in black and white with a spare score; and it is not afraid to experiment as when Hud Bannon (Paul Newman) refers to Lon (Brandon de Wilde) as Fantan. The scenes of everyday Texas in the 1950s are pure Americana. This movie is as refreshing today as when I first saw it as a boy in the 1960s; and the performances have not aged.
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No One Gets Out Of Life Alive
Lechuguilla1 February 2005
Those are the nihilistic words of Hud Bannon, the swaggering antihero in the Martin Ritt directed film "Hud", set amid the vast, expansive high plains of West Texas. It's a somber affair.

Hud lives with his elderly father Homer (a wonderfully understated performance by Melvyn Douglas) and nephew Lonnie. Their small, struggling ranch serves not only as a livelihood, but also the source of Homer's ethical values. Another main character is Alma, the attractive housekeeper and cook. For all four of them it's a hard life, but a worthwhile life, at least as Homer sees it. Hud sees it differently. But then Hud is a product of modern times, with differing values from those of Homer and his generation. When a crisis occurs that puts their ranch in jeopardy, these differing values clash, resulting in tension between Hud and his father.

Hud's ongoing rebellion, rooted in heredity and environment, takes the form of booze, brawls, women, and anger. Hud is a heel, but a sympathetic heel. We understand his frustrations. Larry McMurtry's story presents a naturalistic interpretation of human character. Hud is constrained by forces over which he has no control. For him, like for many of us, freedom of choice is mostly an illusion. The morality of absolutes, as expressed by his father, does not work in Hud's favor.

But there's a fifth character in this morality tale ... the land. The bleak, desolate plains with its buzzards, ubiquitous dust, and lonesome vistas can depress the most optimistic spirit. In this film, the monochrome canvas accentuated by James Wong Howe's use of single source lighting makes the natural environment seem appropriately oppressive. And the film's sounds amplify the gritty realism of this unforgiving land.

I have a couple of minor criticisms. The screenplay puts too much emphasis on Alma, given that she is the housekeeper. Second, there's not enough music or humor. Others will disagree, but I would have preferred a more prominent role for the mournful sounds of Hank Williams type music, a la "The Last Picture Show".

Interestingly, Hud's comment on life is the same in meaning as the words spoken years later by a real-life nihilistic antihero, who said: "No one here gets out alive". While we think we know what happened to the real-life antihero, we don't know what became of Hud. Perhaps someday someone will make a credible sequel. Then they can add more music. Imagine the mood evoked by the sight of Hud riding off into the Texas sunset, to the sounds of "Riders On The Storm".
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A study in human nature?
aretheyreal25 July 2017
One reviewer wrote a lengthy review touching upon the dark side of human nature. Some believe we are all capable of behaving just as Paul Newsman's "Hud" character. That is just not so. Hud appears as a rowdy hard drinking womanizing cowboy living in the Texas panhandle 1961 on his father's ranch. What Hud really is is a classic example of a sociopath. The person who cares only about himself. Period. He has all the traits and no sympathy for the plight of others or the damage he does to them. Everyone is a victim to a sociopath. Most sociopaths are not serial killers but every serial killer is a sociopath. Hud's victim is his father and he plays it just cool enough to be welcomed but not enjoyed in the home. Hud knows that when his father dies the ranch will be his. The only other heir was his brother who was killed when drinking with Hud years earlier. Hud knows but it is not mentioned much that there is oil and gas waiting to be drilled on the ranch. The father will not consent to "punching holes" in his land...Not while he is alive he says anyway. Hud's nephew does not know this neither does his father or the housekeeper but they all know Hud is a tornado in their lives. Had they known he was a sociopath they would have sent him down the road. A sociopath does not know nor care about right or wrong and they will never change or be cured. They learn their victim's weaknesses and play on them. Newman and Melvyn Douglas show that they are two fine actors in this film, none better. Filming Hud in black and white makes the movie timeless. Why John Mellencamp was so enamored by this film that he stole some lines from the film for his own songs and named his son Hud is certainly a question to which I would be interested to know the answer.
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Remarkable and dramatic account about antagonism between an arrogant son and his sternly moralising father
ma-cortes5 May 2014
Intelligent semi-Western, well directed and wonderfully performed by Newman as a man with the barbed wire soul . Hud Bannon(Paul Newman who dubbed this one pretty good) is a ruthless young man who tarnishes everything and everyone he touches . Hud represents the perfect embodiment of alienated youth . Instead of helping his dad , Hud drunkenly chases the family's housekeeper (Patricia Neal) and establishes relationship with his hero-worshipping nephew (Brandon De Wilde , Shane) , both of whom emotionally involved with him . As the father-son conflict is deeply observed by other members of the household , the maid and the nephew . Then , a government order to slaughter the ranch's entire herd as a precaution leads to tragedy and the ranch owner siding the law .

Exciting and thought-provoking clear-eyed story of growing in Texas plenty of interesting drama , emotion and a strong antagonism between the free-drinking son and a sternly moralising patriarchal ranch owner , including elements of Greek tragedy . Various studio-characters furnish the basis for this Western-drama ; filmmaker Martin Ritt has got a big success in delineating their troublesome roles . Terrific Paul Newman in an enjoyable performance, though using the Stanislawski method , it results to be a superb piece of acting . Paul Newman played the part of Hud as a villain . He was later stunned that so many young moviegoers had a poster of Hud and viewed him as their hero. In preparation for his title role , Paul Newman worked on a Texas cattle ranch for several weeks acquiring genuine calluses and a cowboy's lope . Melvyn Douglas gives a superb acting as old rancher who has fallen on hard times and shows to mourn the old-free-ranging ways of the frontier days . Terrific interpretation by Patricia Neal as a mature woman to whom Hud pursues and she wants nothing to do with him . Interesting screenplay dealing with brooding themes such as the disintegration of a heritage , including engaging dialogs haunted by frames of decay and death ; being nicely written by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. from a novel by Larry McMurtry . Evocative cinematography by James Wong Howe , he's a classic cameraman who won two Oscars (for Hud, and Rose tattoo), working from silent cinema . Elmer Bernstein's score for Hud runs approximately six minutes, making it one of the shortest film scores ever. But what a six minutes it is - in fact, it's perfection and just right for the film . The music is sparse, yes, but it's potent every time it appears. There's also some source music in the film - car radios, jukeboxes, records.

This understatement motion picture was well produced and directed by Martin Ritt, who worked with Paul Newman in two Westerns : ¨Hombre¨ and ¨Outrage¨. Ritt was an expert on dramas such as ¨Stanley and Iris¨ , ¨Nut¨ , ¨Norma Rae¨ , ¨The front¨, ¨The Sound and the Fury¨ , ¨Black orchid¨ , though also directed films of all kind of genres such as : ¨The Spy Who Came in from the Cold¨ , ¨The Great White Hope¨ , ¨Mafia¨ and ¨Molly McGuire¨ . This ¨Hud¨ film will appeal to drama enthusiasts and Paul Newman fans . Rating : Above average, well worth watching ; along with ¨Outrage¨ , being one of Ritt's best movie.
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A lesson in making a movie.
rmax30482313 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A story about four people living on a modest Texas ranch, their interactions, troubles and joys, and the ways they resolve their conflicts. The owner of the ranch is the elderly Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas). His surviving son is Hud (Paul Newman). Hud's nephew, Lon (Brandon De Wilde) is the naive seventeen-year-old, and Alma (Patricia Neal) is their hired cook and housekeeper. The setting is the dry, windswept cattle country of West Texas, not far from a small town in which everyone seems to know everyone else.

The film has been criticized as too mechanistic, too full of stereotypes, and it's easy to see why. The principals are easy to categorize. An adjective or two will seem to suffice. The "honorable", old Melvyn Douglas. The "mean", unprincipled Paul Newman. The "inexperienced" Brandon De Wilde. The "down-to-earth" and sensitive Pat Neal.

But this approach, I think, overlooks the subtlety of the characters. The psychologist Gordon Allport proposed that people were made up of many traits (extraverted/introverted, for instance). Allport was able to dig up 3,000 trait-like names from an ordinary dictionary. He noted that some were more important than others. The important ones were "central traits" that showed up consistently in a person's behavior. The less important he called "secondary traits". They were tied to particular situations or moods and were real but transient. You might, for instance, be reserved with everyone else (a central trait) but warm and affectionate with your dog and canary (a secondary trait).

"Hud" is able to make the same distinction. Sure, the old guy is and overstuffed with old-time pride and honor. That's him in a nut shell. But he's also pretty huffy with people whose morals he's not entirely comfortable with, and there's evidence that he's been antagonistic towards Hud since Hud's childhood. He even admits it. (His honesty is a central trait, remember?) The same is true of the other three main characters. Hud is a mean SOB but "even Hud gets lonesome sometimes." The kid is more like the old man, thoughtful and fundamentally decent, but he has a kinda hankerin' for the wild side too, which he sometimes indulges. The same is true for Alma, a hard-working, good woman, with urges she keeps in check.

What does this mean on screen? It means the characters, as written, are fully fleshed. They don't seem like characters in a movie but rather as people we know, with genuine complexities of character. Kids may not understand why this film is as good as it is -- and it's very good -- but adults should be able to "get it".

The performances are excellent, with De Wilde's the weakest. Paul Newman may be handsome but he has a clipped, nasal, argumentative Texan tone of voice that's an immediate turn off. He should never run for elective office. And he does a marvelous drunk, lurching around in a muscular way -- just enough.

I'll mention only one example of a thoroughly realized scene. Pat Neal has a brief conversation with De Wilde while she's waiting for the bus to leave town. De Wilde: "We're sure going to miss you, Alma." Neal: "Oh, you'll get along. (pause) Don't you be lazy now, you hear?" And her face twists for a second and her voice cracks before she and De Wilde fling themselves into a wordless, helpless hug. I'm not sure there have been that many more understated but wrenching scenes on film. The script (by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr.) also gives De Wilde a certain believability that his performance does not. Sitting in a bar with Newman, a little drunk, flirting with some gal down the bar ("I'd sure like to take her the long way home"),De Wilde gets to his feet, practically puffing out his chest with an beer-fueled, almost-achieved adult masculinity, and says, "I think I'll go shoot some more nickels into that juke." Nothing more is made of this endearing, pathetic bravado.

I have to mention the photography of James Wong Howe too. Such crisp black and white images. It's harder to see on the small screen, but Howe manages to capture the precise outlines of distant thunder clouds while keeping the middle ground in focus. And we can almost feel the atmosphere of the ranch's yard when Newman and De Wilde are dunking their heads in the trough to sober up after a night on the town while a handful of stunningly white moths whirl and flutter around their torsos under a naked light bulb.

This is one of several excellent movies Newman made during the 1960s, and it was a shocker in its time -- the mass slaughter of the cattle, Newman's bitter dialog, "This world is so full of crap, you're bound to step into it sooner or later." Oh, it's nothing now, but it was a big surprise in 1963.

A fine film all around and it shouldn't be missed.
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Morality Play
jasonbourneagain24 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I watched Hud for the first time tonight without any preface and right away saw it as a morality play. It's a simple explanation for the movie, but not quite accurate. There are complex characters within and what's right and wrong is supposed to seem clear cut, but isn't. The viewer is left to judge along with Lonnie Bannon (Brandon de Wilde) to decide.

Right off the bat, we are introduced to Hud Bannon who is the top local drinker, fighter and womanizer. I didn't like his character right off, but Paul Newman plays Hud in a way that makes him appealing and interesting despite the major character flaws. Lonnie Bannon is taken aback by his Uncle Hud's brazen behavior getting him in hot water with the husband of the woman Hud is having an affair with. He's angry, but not hateful and Hud's smart and smooth talking ways quickly take the edge off.

Soon after, we meet Homer Bannon and it's a different story with him. He definitely has a chip against Hud and as the movie unfolds, we find out what that is despite Hud being his son. Their relationship is basically broken, but we do not find the truth out until later.

We find out Lonnie loves his Grand Dad Homer, but is placed in the middle between his traditional, principled Grand Dad and his Uncle Hud's free wheeling unprincipled ways. Lonnie admires his uncle, but eventually is forced to decide what is right and wrong as Homer told him.

Homer makes his living running a small Texas ranch. He has to work hard, and is able to keep it running with the help of Hud, Lonnie, their cook and housekeeper Alma and some ranch hands. The ranch serves as the background for Homer's traditional and ethical values. He treats others as he would like to be treated. He possesses some admirable qualities, but it is not enough to keep him out of financial trouble when one of his cattle comes down with a fatal and contagious disease.

Hud has other ideas and gives a cynical view of government and how they treat people when it comes to the law. Hud is quite self serving and just looking out for his own interests, but he makes a compelling case for not letting government bureaucrats tell them how to run his business and how his Dad and him could get out of the potential mess they could soon face. In regards to the law, Hud says, "Well, I've always thought the law was meant to be interpreted in a lenient manner. Sometimes I lean one way and sometimes I lean the other."

Throughout the movie, one can sympathize with Hud even though he may a callous, selfish individual. Paul Newman is great in pulling this off. He continually alienates the ones that are close to him, but they cannot be totally be put off by Hud. It's not like they do not see Hud's point of view and completely disagree with him even though it may not match the moral and principled views of his father.

By the end of the movie, I would think the viewer has taken a thoroughly negative view of Hud and like Lonnie ends up going against and leaving him. Hud just shrugs it off and we are left with a pathetic and sad view of Hud.
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Martin Ritt and Elmer Bernstein make the pink Cadillac appear pink in a black & white film
JuguAbraham6 January 2005
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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"Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire."
elvircorhodzic15 July 2017
HUD is a drama film with elements of a western about an arrogant and irresponsible son of a rancher, whose life is very messy. This is a story about relationships and conflicts within a family. It is based on Larry McMurtry's 1961 novel, "Horseman, Pass By".

Hud is an amoral and unemotional rancher. He, very often, comes into a conflict with his father, which has a negative impact on his young nephew. His father holds Hud responsible for the death of his other son. He tries to imbue his grandson with a sense of decency and responsibility to others. When their cattle fall ill, the conflict between father and son begins to escalate...

The Texas cow country is represented through a discord in a family. It's nothing new, but a realistic approach is enriched with dose of a sick materialism and immorality, which is probably the biggest asset of this film. This is a cold review of one human mind, which rejects any kind of traditional values. Characters is placed on the scale several times, but it is clear that there is no winner. One thing is certain, this is not a conflict between traditional and modern ways of thinking.

The scenery is a kind of combination between a poor ranch and cheap city. The atmosphere is grim and tense. Characterization is very good.

Paul Newman as Hud Bannon is a restless, arrogant and ambitious rancher. He is a man, who has fallen into a trap of modern understanding of life around him. He, at the same time, understands and despises the people around him. Mr. Newman is a charming monster in this film.

Melvyn Douglas as Homer Bannon is a traditional farmer who loves his ranch and cattle more than his own son. He is an old man who sees his own disappointment and shame in actions and behavior of his son. Mr. Douglas has offered a very touching performance.

Brandon deWilde as Lonnie Bannon is a young man who is torn with relationship between his venerable grandfather and his harsh and greedy uncle. He is naive, sensitive and, perhaps, sexually depressed. Patricia Neal as Alma Brown is a lonely housewife with a broken heart and a strong dignity. Ms. Neal has almost stole this show.
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the highlight of Paul Newman's career
lee_eisenberg6 June 2005
With "Hud", Paul Newman played what may have been his best role ever. He plays Hud Bannon, a hard-drinking, very cool cowboy/rancher in rural Texas. But he is also very alienated from his family. This quality comes to a head when his father Homer (Melvyn Douglas), who has fallen on hard times, asks for help in regaining his livelihood. Hud refuses, preferring the cool-but-destructive life that he leads. Brandon DeWilde plays Hud's nephew Lonnie, who idolizes Hud but at the same time is repulsed by the man's attitude towards the family. Patricia Neal won a well-deserved Oscar for her role as gentle-but-firm maid Alma Brown, who provides a sort of counterbalance to Hud's cowboy lifestyle.

Almost as magnificent as the actors is James Wong Howe's cinematography. Brilliantly capturing the barren landscape, he shows what seems to be a metaphor for Hud's alienation. All in all, "Hud" was certainly one of 1963's five best movies, if not the best. It showed without a doubt that Martin Ritt was one of the greatest directors in history.
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A Great American Tragedy
Texasguy2 October 2000
If there is a picture in this world that proves film is as great an art form as the novel, it is "Hud." Intricate, well layered, and ultimately heartbreaking, "Hud" is an American tragedy that easily merits comparison with Eugene O' Neil's New England dramas as it is a simple, yet profound contemplation of human nature. Though a tale of morality, "Hud" is at its core a eulogy to a bygone era of America's past, and devastating portrait of modern degeneration. The performances are nothing less than fantastic as the characters presented in "Hud" are all so well realized that their presences will haunt the viewer long after the screen fades to black. Paul Newman is at his best as the despicable title character, while Patricia Neal gives her most legendary performance as a rangy housekeeper. Equally brilliant are Melvyn Douglas whose character functions as the film's moral center, and the young Brandon de Wilde whose character serves as the innocent spectator to the story's tragedy.

Though the deserved winner of several Academy Awards, "Hud" has become somewhat of a forgotten masterpiece. If you have never seen this beautiful movie, go out and rent it now! I guarantee it will move you to tears!
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A Classic
JohnnyLee14 April 2018
Everything there is to say has been said about this film. Look out for a memorable scene between Lon and his grandfather when they go to the cinema. They sing along to My Darling Clementine. It's a scene of pure joy, simple yet touching. You could find something to praise in every scene of the movie. To be watched again and again!
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Old and new Texas, and America, with a searing Newman at the center
secondtake14 March 2011
Hud (1963)

A serious drama with an existential ride and poignant ending. It is partly about the end of the Old West, if you can call it that (I think the old west still exists in many places), and about the intrusion of easy oil money into cattle ranging culture. It's also about family dynamics, with tragedies not described and sadness dripping everywhere.

The man in the middle is Paul Newman, playing Hud, and we aren't sure if he's a bitter selfish violent young man because of these past events or if he just ended up that way and helped, in his own way, cause those events. As we get to know Hud in his aimlessness (and Paul Newman is his hunky best here, so that's just fine for most people), we see this dusty dried up Texas outland and the emptiness, it seems, of life there, people always flipping on the radio or t.v. and hanging out drinking or doing chores.

Unless you handle the cattle. This is what people have done for a living there, and Hud's father is an archetype of a good, honorable, wise, and stern man. We aren't sure if his severity was really part of Hud's malaise, but it's dangled there. But in the present situation, the old man, now ailing even as he works a hard day, is a model of decency, a contrast to the egotistical and rather lazy son of his who is pretty much interested in girls and drinking. A ranching crisis (foot and mouth disease) becomes a center piece in this larger plot, and it squeezes further the tensions.

A separate element is an important one, interweaving with Hud's womanizing, and that is a housekeeper living in a cabin on the property, played by Patricia Neal. She's quite amazing as a likable, tough, and lonely woman who long ago escaped an abusive husband (and she won the Best Actress Oscar for it). She fills in as the missing friend to Hud, an absent mother to Hud's nephew who is now coming of age. And yet she isn't the wife of the old man in any way beyond doing the dishes, and so her presence acts more as a reminder of what all three of the males don't have in their lives. She carries the emotional load of the movie at times, and by the end shows one simple solution to the problems around her.

Martin Ritt has directed a number of probing, gritty, real life movies ("The Sound and the Fury" starring Newman's wife Joanne Woodward and "The Front" at opposite ends of his career). This one, along with "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," are probably his best two, also very serious. But they are also beautiful movies. In all of them there are characters with real depth and pathos. We know who we can feel for, even as the world crumbles around nearly everyone in nearly all four of these. "Hud" is filmed in such clean, bright greys and whites it really feels much more like dry old Texas than it would have in color, just as his Cold War masterpiece is charcoal and black much of the time. Cinematographer James Wong Howe, born in China and moved here when five years old, and director of music Elmer Bernstein are both Hollywood's legends with three Academy Awards between them. It shows. The movie is if nothing else very well made.

Larry McMurty wrote the original story for this movie, and also co-wrote the screenplay for "Brokeback Mountain," which shares a lot of the loneliness of the characters. The character of the housekeeper was originally a black woman, and I'm assuming this would have pressed too hard on social issues just beginning to break down in the early 1960s, so it was simplified by keeping it an all white cast. But the movie did push against certain censorship boundaries, including the simple admission (without showing it directly) of Hud having and bragging about his affair with a married woman.
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