Thursday 14 November 2013

Hud [1963]

Hud, Martin Ritt’s blistering adaptation of McMutry’s debut novel Horseman Pass By, was a powerful depiction of generational conflict and father-son feud. In keeping with the changing sensibilities of American cinema during the 60s, it had a thoroughly gray lead character and brilliantly mirrored the growing cynicism among the youth with traditional social structures and idealism. At the heart of the matter were three finely etched characters – the elderly Texas cattle-rancher Hommer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas), his embittered and amoral younger son Hud (Paul Newman), and his naïve teenaged grandson Lonnie (Brandon deWilde) who hero-worships Hud and becomes the unwitting participant in the simmering collissions between the two headstrong men. Alma (Patricia Neal), the earthy and sensuous domestic help who Lonnie is infatuated with and the libidinous Hud leers after, played a key plot driver, as did the sudden outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that might wipe off their herd. The fact that Hud craves for his father’s love and acceptance and yet ends up continually aggravating their already ice-cold relationship – Hommer considers Hud to be responsible for his his elder son’s death, and that was just the tip of the iceberg – made this Shakespearean tragedy an interesting companion piece to Kazan’s East of Eden, even though, unlike the latter, the resolution never arrived in the final act here. The film boasted of a string of terrific performances, including an incredibly charismatic turn by Newman, while the glorious widescreen B/W photography of the desolate landscapes and the scantly populated town, along with the evocative but minimalist score, superbly brought forth the underlying themes of loneliness and death of a way of life, and the poignancy thereof.

Director: Martin Ritt
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Modern Western/Americana
Language: English
Country: US

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