Filmsite Movie Review
Hud (1963)
Pages: (1)
Background

Hud (1963) is the story of the title character - a young Texas rancher named Hud Bannon (Paul Newman), the son of moral patriarch, law-abiding cattleman Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas) in modern day Texas. His crude nature was described in the film's tagline:

The Man With the Barbed Wire Soul!

The Story

Hud is an anti-hero - he is therefore selfish, cocky, amoral, unscrupulous, crude, hard-drinking, irresponsible, and hedonistic, and known as a "Cadillac cowboy." He conspicuously parks his pink Cadillac convertible outside homes of married women. Hud is known to say:

The only question I ever ask any woman is, 'What time is your husband coming home?'

Hud believes that if "...you don't look out for yourself, the only helping hand you'll ever get is when they lower the box."

He and his rigid, principled patriarchal father Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas) clash over the fate of his hoof-and-mouth diseased cattle on their Texas ranch. When it is discovered that the Bannon herd is possibly stricken - Hud disregards for the law by shooting at a flock of assembled buzzards nearby, while principled patriarch Homer objects:

Homer: I wish you wouldn't do that, Hud. They keep the country clean. Besides, there's a law against killin' buzzards.
Hud (uncaring): Man, I always say the law was meant to be interpreted in a lenient manner. And that's what I try to do. Sometimes I lean to one side of it, sometimes I lean to the other.
Homer: I don't like to break the law in my place, Hud.
Hud: Well, she ain't gonna sit up and tell us herself.

Hud wants to sell them before they can be condemned by government inspectors: "You gonna let them shoot your cows out from under you on account of a schoolbook disease?" Homer rejects selling them: "That would run the risk of starting an epidemic." Hud replies:

Why this whole country is run on epidemics...Where you been? Big business, price-fixing, crooked TV shows, income tax finagling, souped-up expense accounts. How many honest men do you know? Why you separate the saints from the sinners, you're lucky to wind up with Abraham Lincoln. Now I want out of this spread what I put into it, and I say let us dip our bread into some of that gravy while it is still hot.

His father responds: "You're an unprincipled man, Hud."

In one of the film's memorable scenes, Homer condemns his drunken son Hud, and criticizes his entire philosophy of life:

You don't give a damn. That's all. That's the whole of it. You still don't get it, do ya? You don't care about people, Hud. You don't give a damn about 'em....Oh, ya got all that charm goin' for ya, and it makes the youngsters wanna be like ya. That's the shame of it 'cause you don't value nothin'. You don't respect nothin'. You keep no check on your appetites at all. You live just for yourself and that makes ya not fit to live with.

Hud responds and admits drunkenly and angrily - to end the conversation: "My mama loved me, but she died."

The cattle are slaughtered, in the film's most harrowing sequence, as Homer remarks: "It don't take long to kill things, not like it takes to grow."

In the well-acted, authentic-feeling story, Hud also develops a relationship with his innocent, idol-worshipping, adoring, 17-year-old nephew, Lon Bannon (Brandon de Wilde), who must choose between Hud's and Homer's lifestyles. Hud sets a bad example for his young nephew. But when Lon defends Hud in a talk with Homer, the old man delivers the famous line:

Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire...You're just going to have to make up your own mind one day about what's right and wrong.

The earthy, warm-hearted housekeeper Alma Brown (Patricia Neal) is almost raped one night when Hud is uncontrollably drunk. After the rape attempt, Alma ventures to the bus station to leave town for good. She shows disgust-attraction at Hud while he tries to assuage her feelings:

Well, it looks like we're losin' a good cook. Maybe we should've boosted your salary a little. You ain't lettin' that little ruckus we had run ya off, are ya?...It seems I'm the first guy that ever stuck his foot in your door?...I'm the first one ever got rough, huh? Well, I'm sorry. That ain't my style. I don't usually get rough with my women. Generally don't have to.

Although she compliments his appearance and confesses that he might have eventually made love to her without brutal force, she is ready to leave: "You're rough on everybody...You want to know something funny, it would've happened eventually without the rough house. You look pretty good without your shirt on, you know. Sight of that through the kitchen window made me put down my dishtowel more than once." As she boards the bus, he shouts out: "I'll remember ya, honey. You're the one that got away."

Homer's death comes soon after, when he falls from a horse, after which Hud shows little respect and compassion for his father. He asserts to Lon:

Hud: "It was the best thing. He was wore out and he knew it....Tryin' to get up, hurtin' himself. He couldn't have made it. Lonnie, any way in this world, he couldn't have made it another hour....You don't know the whole story. Yeah, him and me fought many and many a round together. But I guess you could say that I helped him about as much as he ever helped me."
Lon: (questioning Hud's sincerity and complicity) "How did you help him, Hud? By tryin' to sell him out? By takin' the heart out of him? By makin' him give up and quit? Is that how you helped him?"

In the final scene, Lon walks off from the ranch in disgust as he speaks to Hud driving next to him in his car, and decides not to follow his ways: "I'm goin' somewhere else and work for awhile if I can happen onto a job...I won't be back this way." Left alone on the ranch, Hud shouts a rebuttal to his departing nephew in the final line:

Well, I guess you've come to be of your granddaddy's opinion that I ain't fit to live with. That's too bad. Yeah, we might've whooped it up some, you and me. That's the way you used to want it ...You know somethin' Fantan? This world is so full of crap, a man's gonna get into it sooner or later whether he's careful or not.



Welcome to Filmsite.
Please support the website by allowing ads.

We've detected that you are using AdBlock Plus or some other ad blocking software which prevents the page from fully loading.

With support from readers and visitors like you, we can continue to deliver the best commentary and film information on the web. You can support us for free by allowing ads.

Please add filmsite.org to your ad blocking whitelist or disable your adblocking software.

×