Just finished watching Hud, with Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal and Brandon De Wilde, a movie that for some reason I have never managed to see before now. Beautiful cinematography by James Wong Howe and the acting is first rate, but did anyone buy, even then, Hud as a symbol of the degeneracy of America? Really?
    • Jim Hoffmaster I doubt your average movie-goer gave it a second’s thought.

      Monday at 9:05pm · Like
    • Jim Hoffmaster ‎(Great movie, though.)

      Monday at 9:05pm · Like
    • Bob Fish Yeah, I’d say so, though I doubt “degeneracy” is exactly the right word — more like “failing” or “decline.” And that’s because of his misanthropy, certainly not his perfectly polished physicality. I totally bought it, and I’m thrilled that I still do. Without much hesitation at all, I rank “Hud” as my favorite pic of all time. It’s seamless, contemporary while simultaneously universal, and the acting is at Nigel Tufnel’s 11 across the board. You can’t GET me to say a bad word about that film, and I’m one of the pickiest of nit-pickers. Didn’t realize you were a virgin. Glad you saw it and liked it.

      Monday at 10:21pm · Like
    • Howard Casner I can’t say I liked it; I found it entertaining enough. But I had serious issues with it as well. My main issue with Hud as a symbol of degeneracy is that every generation somebody writes a book or makes a movie about how the previous generation was perfect and that the new generation is bringing the world to an end, yet the world keeps on going until the new generation writes a book about how the previous generation (the one that was earlier considered to be the end of the world) was perfect and the new generation is going to destroy the world, so I can’t really take that part of the movie seriously. In addition, I think that the focus is off. The central character is Brandon De Wilde’s Lonnie who is suppose to choose between Hud and his grandfather, but Newman’s Hud or Newman himself took away so much focus from that, I didn’t felt this conflict in Lonnie’s character was strongly dramatized enough (and his final scene of walking on down the road at age 17 to become his own man was something I had difficulty taking seriously as well; was his life on the ranch really that bad, really?). I also couldn’t take seriously the grandfather’s overwrought speech about how he would not sell an oil lease because it wasn’t a way to make money he wanted to (because he couldn’t go out and touch it or some such that never worked for me); I could buy this if he could still raise cattle, but I couldn’t feel the same empathy when he was now just being stubborn and unrealistic. For me, Hud would have worked better as a character study of a sociopath (which Hud almost is), rather than a symbol of America. On the plus side is that incredible camera work and Newman and Neal. The dialog was also wonderfully Texan at times, especially Lonnie’s dialog.

      Yesterday at 5:07am · Like
    • Bob Fish Well, I never really thought of him as a symbol of America, though people are welcome to that sort of expansiveness if it suits them. I’ve always seen it as a character study, and I believe the title when it says it’s Hud’s story rather than Lonnie’s. Lonnie can be considered the narrative voice or perspective. As for Grandpa, old people can often be stubborn and unrealistic. Hud as a borderline psychopath is pretty accurate, I’d say, and to understand him and all the rest of the family, we should understand the stultifying force of that place and its rigid society. They’re all victims, which is not popular these days, but they’re such fascinating victims that I’m suckered in. Compassion’s the key, I think, to accepting these people and their behavior — a Greek tragedy, really. I think it was the perfect picture for its day. (I saw it first run –Jesus God!)

      Yesterday at 5:20am · Like
    • Howard Casner I think we’d have to say we did see a different movie (which is what going to movies and viewing art and arguing about it is all about and why I love doing it). The dialog where the author tries to make Hud this symbol of America is when Lonnie and his grandfather have a conversation about Hud and Lonnie says Hud doesn’t seem all that different from others and the grandfather says that’s the problem, it didn’t use to be this way, but this is the way the new generation is heading and Lonnie is going to have to make a choice (which he does at the end). I also didn’t see the town as stultifying or rigid; it actually seemed rather unstultifying and unrigid if Hud could be one of its most popular citizens (it’s the grandfather who is coming across as stultifying and rigid–he only loosens up when he sings Clementine at the movie theater ). I think the movie would have worked better for me if it had been about Hud’s sociopathology and Lonnie’s reaction to it rather than try to make more of Hud that he is. I just saw Last Summer again about some teens involvement with a sociopath (Barbara Hershey). I never got the idea that the author was saying this is what the new generation of teens is like and American is headed for the scrap heap; which is maybe why I found it more powerful in its message and more universal. But Hud was superior from a technical standpoint.

So tell me what you think.

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