“The shape of the country changes depending on the men we believe in.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Thank goodness for De Wilde’s Lonnie, who represents a better hope for the future. Meanwhile, as we see Douglas grappling with life-altering news about his cattle — it’s nothing short of eerie seeing a “highly communicable viral disease” at the heart of a storyline right now — we can’t help wondering how in the world he developed such intense loathing for his own son. (Apparently Hud was changed from stepson to son when Larry McMurtry’s novel Horseman, Pass By was adapted, and Homer’s wife was removed from story — both of which could help fill in gaps about their relationship.)
Regardless, this is a film about alienation in all its forms — and both director Martin Ritt and DP James Wong Howe portray this sensibility magnificently. The actors are top-notch in their roles, perhaps thanks in large part to Ritt’s theatrically-grounded rehearsal process. It’s harsh knowing Newman was so in character that upon hearing about the recent death of Neal’s seven-year-old daughter, he simply said “Tough”, and walked away. I suppose kudos should be given to the storytellers for daring to show us the reality of such deep-seated self-absorption and disdain for humanity — though viewers should be forewarned that this is an enormously bleak tale on nearly every level; the final cattle scenes are especially brutal to watch.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)