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  • Hombre
    • Hombre
    • Runtime:111 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-16 08:00:34
    • Director: Martin Ritt
    • Genres: Action, Western
    • Studio:


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sometimes you get your best views of accomplished actors in movies that
aren't top shelf. Not that there's anything wrong with this one, it's
just a fairly standard Western that has a better than average cast and
one or two good twists. The plot accommodates Newman's 60s' anti-hero
look very nicely, as he goes from insulted passenger on an endangered
stagecoach to a potential (and somewhat sullen) savior. Frederic March
and Martin Balsam are always appreciated, in this case in supporting
roles from which I expected both to see an early exit, and Richard
Boone is a very convincing villain. The longer I go the more I
appreciate Newman and Cary Grant, more so even than McQueen, I don't
think there's an actor out there now that can match these guys
(including Hanks). I will watch a movie simply because Newman or Grant
is in it, might add William Powell to the list, can't say that for
anyone I can think of nowadays. Some of this dialogue is a little
intellectual, but this is fun stuff with an interesting wrap up. I love
the Western scenery and backdrop, wish someone could do a good Western


Slow-moving, but still occasionally gripping western in the modern
idiom, too much in the shadow of Leone's work to really stand out as
exceptional. Newman can do stoical, monosyllabic character-study but
not as well as Eastwood, likewise director Martin Ritt's work owes too
much to the hugely popular "Man With No Name" prototype.

It gets off to a slow start when the biggest questions are exactly when
the first piece of spoken dialogue will emerge and will Newman retain
his ill-fitting Red Indian wig all the way through the film. The fact
that he doesn't and in fact very quickly can pass himself as an almost
everyday, if exceptionally moody, white frontiersman goes against the
rebellious spirit of his character. Is this the same steely individual
who is happy to take on a couple of stereotypically racist cowboys who
taunt his Red Indian cohorts and who at other parts of the film
displays a total nerveless calm in the eye of danger? Maybe Paul just
didn't enjoy wearing the wig.

After we go through a fairly predictable meet-the-cast introduction,
it's all set up for a tense climax as Newman and his fellow
stagecoach-travellers are staked out by hijacking robber Richard Boone
and his gang for corrupt accountant Fredric March's ill-gotten-gains.
Throughout, I was aware of the film trying to make wider points about
the subjugation of native Americans (then termed Red Indians), at the
time a hot topic in contemporary U.S.A.(and by extension perhaps, the
then burgeoning Civil Rights movement) but it lets itself down badly
with sloppy characterisation and outmoded attitudes towards women, the
latter highlighted by an unnecessary and poorly written encounter
between the big bad guy and the flirtatious and sexually dissatisfied
young wife of the even younger-looking stagecoach rider.

The acting's less than top-drawer too, I like Newman as an actor, but
he's sleepwalking here and Boone, for all his cackling just isn't
threatening enough as his nemesis. Then there's Diane Cilento as the
local tart-with-a-heart who eventually prevails on Newman to do the
manly thing and get himself killed saving March's kidnapped wife, who
earlier of course has derided pejoratively the very Indians that
Newman's affiliated with. As I said, the big message about racial
tolerance is just writ too large and overloads the narrative. I also
can't quite figure out the motivations of Cameron Mitchell's character
as Rush's ex-boyfriend the sheriff who "goes bad" as he puts in the
worst piece of exposition in the whole film.

On the plus side, James Wong Howe's cinematography is excellent and
when they eventually come, the action set-pieces are well constructed.
On the whole though, this movie seems a little too big for its boots
and would have worked better with a less ambitious and message-laden


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Paul Newman said his best movies were the ones that started with the
letter "H", seeing how The Hustler and Hud were successful, and this
was the third one, from director Martin Ritt (Hud). Basically John
'Hombre' Russell (Paul Newman) is a man who was raised by the Apache
Indians in the colony, and he only leaves them when he is informed that
he has inherited a lodging house in the city in Arizona. Instead of
taking the house, he trades it for a herd, and he decides to ride the
stagecoach, soon to be replaced by the train, to another city. The
journey is being paid for by Dr. Alex Favor (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde's
Fredric March) and his wife Audra (Barbara Rush), and they are joined
by four other passengers. During the journey, the stagecoach is robbed,
and fellow passenger Cicero Grimes (Richard Boone) is the leader of the
gang, and they are after the money that Favor stole from John's people.
Grimes and the gang ride off taking Favor's wife as hostage, luckily
John shoots the bandit with the sack of money, and now he and the
stagecoach passengers are on the gang's tail. Each character along the
way expressed their own variation of selfishness whether for the money
or their lives, but they all pull together for the final showdown in an
old cabin. Also starring Diane Cilento (Sir Sean Connery's ex-wife and
Jason Connery's mother) as Jessie, Cameron Mitchell as Frank Braden,
Peter Lazer as Billy Lee Blake, Margaret Blye as Doris Blake, Martin
Balsam as Henry Mendez and Skip Ward as Steve Early. Newman gives a
pretty noble performance and his piercing blue eyes get a good starring
role too (in close ups), there is some story to find interesting, so it
is a western that I suppose should be seen. Paul Newman was number 16
on The 100 Greatest Movie Stars. Very good!

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