Hud. A title of brevity and simplicity. Now granted, it’s the name of the main character, but still, I almost thought this was a foreign film when I scanned upon the title on a pass-through of the book. But no, this is an American western, but with a few wrenches thrown into the formula; it’s in the modern day rather than being strictly a period piece of times gone by, and the main character isn’t really likable for the most part, or at least he isn’t supposed to be.
Paul Newman stars as the titular Hud, a nasty, rowdy modern-day cowboy who does what he pleases and deals with the consequences by shrugging them off his shoulders and moving on to his next personal conquest. It’s an abrupt, but always interesting change of pace for a western film, and Hud has much to offer both as a film and as a character. Newman plays the man straight as an arrow, single-minded and not too overly dimensional to distract from the character’s intentionally limited focus. Hud’s a man’s man, but in the world of 1960’s Hollywood, this means he is largely an unlikable fellow, and he is hard to empathize with, which means the film has to make us work extra hard to care about whatever the main character is involved with, which it turns out is a lot.
It’s the interactions between Hud and the various characters, family and likewise, that makes up most of the entertainment value in this one, what of it there is to be had. The plot keeps things moving forward, but is mostly there to provide more opportunities for the characters to bounce off each other and themselves. So, really, this ends up being a character drama more than anything, and in that vein, it works quite well; Hud, the central character, is flawed enough that it brings about changes in the other characters that revolve around him, and it is ultimately change that fuels a story. This is a pretty good film, but don’t expect to be wowed; it’s very restrained, like most character dramas, so you should know what you’re getting from this, at least.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10