Shot in black and white, the film evokes a tempered nostalgia for a grittier but simpler West. As David Kehr put it, the film puts “a little too much dust in the dust bowl,” but it is nonetheless effective in drawing a stark contrast between rudderless Hud and his principled father; where the west was and where it is going.
Hud’s father is utterly false as a character because he refers back to a legend in which the authors of Hud have never believed. Directors like Ford and Ophuls, who genuinely mourn the past, never malign the present, whereas a dude director like Martin Ritt would have deplored the Old West in much the same obvious terms he deplores the New.
"Desire" list: Newman was, in my view, The man, the most beautiful animal in the world. In thecnicolor he wins the blue of his eyes but here - or in "The Left Handed Gun", black and white revisionist westerns - he acquires a classicist dimension of his immense beauty, making him hellenic, a man for all times and its gods. Of my time and beyond.
Or: The Second to Last Picture Show. Ritt's McMurtry adaptation, made almost ten years before Bogdanovich's, looks,feels and sounds an awful lot like its successor; I found myself appreciating it primarily as a prequel, one that adds depth and dimension to a beloved film. On its own terms it's a sturdy piece of filmmaking marked by strong performances, but it's workmanlike and lugubrious next to its younger sibling.
Hud is a masterclass drama & classic Hollywood at its best. About the titular Hud seen through the eyes of his teenage nephew, the film paints authentic portrait of western rural life. Most notable of all is the cast's tour de force of stellar acting. Another quality that shapes Hud into a great picture is the Oscar-winning cinematography by the great James Wong Howe.
A melancholic ode to a word vanishing in a cloud of dust and tumbleweed. Paul Newman gives a rollicking performance as the ultra masculine, volatile, cowboy Hud hellbent on alienating all around him. Like The Last Picture Show or A Streetcar Named Desire, Hud is a classic piece of Hollywood drama built on powerful characters, a superb script & a poignant setting. America was fast changing in the 1960s & Hud knows it.
Patricia Neal was rightly recognised across the board for her performance as the world-weary housekeeper Alma - the beating heart of this flawlessly cast film about poisonous masculinity. The Oscar for James Wong Howe's cinematography also seems well deserved.
The picture illuminates an interesting juncture between big old Hollywood storytelling and a new striving in American cinema for the intimate and direct. Paul Newman stuns in this windswept Texas story of the end of a rancher-family’s fortune, and his charismatic performance perfectly brings to life “the man with the barbed wire soul.”