Hud Movie Review
Hud's a scoundrel, troublemaker, corner-cutter, and latter-day outlaw, and Paul Newman pours his soul into the memorable anti-hero. Hud works on a small ranch with his ailing father (Melvyn Douglas), upstanding teenage brother (Brandon De Wilde), and mildly tawdry housekeeper (Patricia Neal). He's rousted out of bed one morning (well, not his bed) due to an emergency at the ranch... which turns out to be a sickness among the cattle. Ultimately that is revealed to be "the worst kind" of problem... hoof and mouth disease. The entire herd will have to be shot and buried. The mass slaughter is a truly horrifying sight without being extreme in its graphicness.
Hud manages to stir up trouble despite the worst of times at the ranch. He suggests selling the cattle quickly to someone out of state and none the wiser. He wants to drill for oil instead of raise cows. He tries to wrestle control away from his father (a lawyer says it's OK). And one drunken night he breaks in to rape the maid. And yet we somehow like Hud, a testament to Newman's magnetism no matter how horrible the role. (Though Newman missed out on the Oscar, Douglas and Neal both won supporting trophies.)
Hud also works as a simple look into ranch politics, the flipside of Giant, which had a very similar setup but writ on a far bigger scale. Hud's family has maybe 200 head of cattle, and they're just squeaking by. When they're shot, that puts an end to a lot of dreams. The movie offers little hope for any of its characters, except maybe Neal's character, who decides to catch the next bus out of town. But the rest of us rarely have such easy outs in our lives, and Hud encourages us to prepare for the worst.
Ride 'em, Hud.