Filmsite Movie Review
Hud (1963)
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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.

The Story

Hud is an anti-hero, selfish, cocky, amoral, unscrupulous, crude, hard-drinking, irresponsible, hedonistic, and known as a "Cadillac cowboy." He conspicuously parks his pink 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 father clash over the fate of his father's hoof-and-mouth diseased cattle on their Texas ranch. 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." 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."

Homer criticizes Hud's entire philosophy of life in a climactic memorable scene:

You don't give a damn...You don't value nothing. You don't respect nothing...You live just for yourself. And that makes you not fit to live with.

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. When she confesses that he might have eventually made love to her without brutal force, he shrugs:

I'll remember you, honey. You're the one that got away.

Sadly, Hud also shows little respect and compassion for his father, even when he suffers a fatal heart attack.

Both Alma and Lon depart from Hud in disgust, leaving him alone on the ranch. Hud shouts to his departing nephew in the final line:

...This world is so full of crap, a man's gonna get into it sooner or later whether he's careful or not.