1963’s remarkably dull Hud more or less plays out as a home-on-the-range knock-off of Nicholas Ray’s brilliant Rebel Without a Cause. Paul Newman stars as Hud Bannon, the Cain to nephew Lonnie’s Abel. When Newman’s Alpha Male isn’t bedding the town’s married women, he’s busy picking fights and shoving his cock-of-the-walk routine under his ailing father’s nose. Director Martin Ritt strains to equate the foot-and-mouth disease that kills one of his father’s heifers to Hud’s own perpetual foot-in-mouth. Ritt lays on the Southern comfort so thick it appears as if he’s got something to prove: the cook played by Oscar-winner Patricia Neal frequently references the ingredients of her latest Southern-fried concoction and considerable down-time is spent observing the games people play in the dust bowl. The film’s father-son disconnect is a ham-fisted one, but Newman and Melvyn Douglas make for excellent sparring partners. Can’t say that Hud’s cool rage is ever really justified, but I suppose I’d be pissed too if my name was Hud and everyone in my house was named after virgins and Greek poets. There’s very little to recommend here (the insights are as profound as “no one gets out of life alive”) besides James Wong Howe’s glorious black-and-white cinematography and Newman’s smarmy performance—his legs are perpetually open and even a department store’s mannequin isn’t safe from his lascivious gaze. The best single moment, though, is owned by Neal’s heavenly Alma. Waking Brandon de Wilde’s young lamb from his innocent slumber, she asks: “Are you sleeping in the raw again?”
- Paramount Pictures
- 111 min
- Martin Ritt
- Harriest Frank Jr., Irving Ravetch
- Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal, Brandon de Wilde
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