A Classic: Hud

Paul Newman in Hud

Hud, a classic from 1963, is streaming on Hulu. My memory of seeing this film in 1963 is fuzzy. I only recall how beautiful and sexy Paul Newman was, and how much I loved Patricia Neal.

The story in Hud had escaped my memory. Looking back at this film from almost 60 years away, is like seeing America from a distance.

Paul Newman and Brandon de Wilde in Hud
Look at the perfect light. This film was characterized by beautiful lighting and cinematography.

Also starring in Hud were Brandon de Wilde, who played Hud’s nephew Lon, Melvyn Douglas as Hud’s father, and Patricia Neal as the housekeeper, Alma.

Brandon de Wilde and Melvyn Douglas in Hud
Homer approved of Lon, but Hud didn’t measure up.

The three men and the housekeeper lived together on a dusty ranch in Texas.

Patricia Neal in Hud
Alma was tough and had a bit of sass. I admired that, even 60 years ago.

Homer, the old man, was a man of honor and principle. He was the kind of man we wish men were now. He believed in duty and right.

Hud seduced married women, drove too fast, drank too much, and didn’t care about anyone but himself. He was interested in making money by drilling for oil on his father’s ranch. Money above all else.

The split between honor and capitalism – between Homer and Hud – represented the split between the old America and the new America. The new America has not been a resounding improvement.

Watching it back then, in my early 20s, my thoughts were on the slinky, bad boy, sexual energy of Paul Newman. Looking at it from 2020, he was a user, predatory, and bad news.

Paul Newman in Hud
I only remembered the gorgeous and sexy aspects of Paul Newman’s character. I forgot what a cad he was. An early example of the anti-hero.

The story was about power struggles between Homer and Hud while the ranch suffered a devastating blow to the herd.

This film won Patricia Neal a Best Actress Oscar, Melvyn Douglas a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and James Wong Howe an Oscar for best black and white cinematography.

So many images in the film supported the iconic Western hero – the lone man on horseback against a vast sky. The Stetson and the boots. The idea that we had of ourselves as independent spirits who had found the right way to live and be. America the beautiful.

Poster for Hud

These old trailers are a hoot, aren’t they?

What do you think? Feel like watching Hud one more time while it’s on Hulu?

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Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia finally retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

4 thoughts on “A Classic: Hud”

  1. one of my favorite Paul Newman films, mostly for Ms. Neal’s performance. i agree with what the movie meant then and how it looks now. i often watch older movies and wonder how they might go over if made today, when our society has changed so much. i think this film would still work in its theme at least – its clear that there are young people who believe we boomers have gotten it all wrong and want us to move out of the way. i suspect 60 years from now, we would see the same conflict repeating itself.

  2. Larry McMurtry gave us some wonderful stories. This is one of them. The epic “Lonesome Dove,” the heartbreaking “The Last Picture Show,” which could have been about my own home town. Of course, “Hud” is based upon “Horesman, Pass By.”

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