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July 9, 2012

by John Farr

John Farr recommends you revisit Paul Newman’s brilliant lead performance in this film.

Hud (1963)

What It’s About:
This modern-day psychological Western concerns unfulfilled, resentful Texas rancher Hud Bannon (Paul Newman), and his uneasy relationships with distant, steely father Homer (Melvyn Douglas), sexy, weathered housekeeper Alma (Patricia Neal), and impressionable nephew Lon (Brandon de Wilde). Keeping everyone at arm’s length, Hud believes in looking out for himself alone, even when events at the ranch take a turn for the worse.

Why I Love It:
Strikingly photographed by James Wong Howe, Martin Ritt’s uncompromising, anti-hero Western broke new ground for a genre which, in the early ’60s, was still stuck in tired old conventions. The movie endures due to Newman’s brilliant lead performance as Hud, an arrested adolescent in a man’s body. All the acting is excellent-especially Oscar winners Patricia Neal as the sad, sensuous Alma, and Douglas as the leathery, principled father. Finally, Newman’s ability to inject pathos into such a cynical, unsympathetic character speaks volumes about his own talent. A spare and powerful film.

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