24 November 2004 | Pamsanalyst
Man running head into wall
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.