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Classic Movie Blog - Hud

Triple Oscar Winner from 1963 still holds up!
Winner of Three Oscars
Winner of Three Oscars(IMDB)
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 11:51 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY)

Hud, based on the Larry McMurtry novel, Horesman, Pass By is remarkably unsentimental for a film that is nearly sixty years old. A Western set in the time it was made, it deals with themes of moral decay, and the harshness of rural life. It’s excellent.

When I rewatched it recently I was impressed by its deep characterizations and excellent acting.  Both Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas won Oscars for their performances here, and Paul Newman was nominated for lead actor for playing Hud. Hud is a heel, cad, womanizer, drunk, and he is also incredibly charismatic.  He has no qualms cavorting in public with married women, or candidly expressing what he will do when his father (Douglas) dies and he gets in his inheritance. Despite his lack of character he is admired by men and desired by women. His nephew (the excellent Brandon De Wilde) who lives at the ranch as well, looks up to Hud and his macho ways, until Hud finally crosses a line he cannot be forgiven for.

Neal’s performance, although technically more of a supporting role, is striking. She inhabits the worn-out Alma without a hint of glamour or affectation.  She is totally credible as the earthy, cook and housekeeper whose bad luck with men rightfully makes her skittish of the predatory Hud.

Perhaps the film’s greatest triumph is its uncompromising ending.  There is no redemption for Hud who doesn’t change at all, he seems to be destined to push everyone away from him with is selfishness and lack of regard for anyone.

The creative team of Hud is excellent, especially the stark photography by James Wong Howe (who won an Oscar here) and the sharp direction by Martin Ritt, who establishes his knack for gritty realism.  Also nominated for an Oscar was the husband-and-wife screenwriting team of Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Junior. An illustrious duo who went onto to write many films, including Norma Rae.

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