Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Friday, 17 February 2012
Bad Boys: HUD and ALL FALL DOWN
Finally I have seen HUD all the way through, as previously I had only seen bits of it here and there. It certainly lives up to his reputation with that great Panavision black and white photography and that modern (1963) western setting, as directed by Martin Ritt who gets the best from his cast of 4, from a novel by Larry McMurtry (who also wrote THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and who scripted Ang Lee's film of that other modern western also set in 1963 BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.) Here we have proud old Melvyn Douglas (that debonair leading man of Garbo's in films like NINOTCHKA and TWO FACED WOMAN) as the old rancher sharing his farm with son Hud (Paul Newman), grandson Lon (Brandon de Wilde) and housekeeper Alma (Patrica Neal). Lon of course hero worships Hud who is shown to be a heel, getting involved with married woman and generally not caring for anybody but himself. He and the weary and wary Alma have a flirtation which spills over almost into violence one drunken night. Problems at the ranch escalate too with the herd of sick cattle which have to be destroyed in a grim sequence, which proves too much for the proud older man. Alma leaves on a greyhound bus and Lon also sees the light leaving the unrependant Hud feeling distinctly sorry for himself. Its a searing climax. Neal's Alma is a brilliant creation well deserving of her best actress award that year.
[This May 1963 issue of "Films & Filming" was the one which had my personal ad in when I was 17, which led to all my pen-friends then... as per other posts here].
A confession though: while I admire Newman's charity works and his spaghetti sauces, as an actor he just never interested me much - whether he is HUD or THE HUSTLER or COOL HAND LUKE or Brick in CAT... or Ben Quick in THE LONG HOT SUMMER or Chance in SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH he always seems the same basic bad-ass character to me, so as Hud he is more of the same really.
ALL FALL DOWN, as scripted by William Inge and filmed by John Frankenheimer, from the novel by James Leo Herlihy (who also wrote BLUE DENIM and MIDNIGHT COWBOY) which I loved then in 1962 aged 16 - the same age as Clint, who records events obsessively in his notebooks, observes his parents Ralph and Annabel (Karl Malden and Angela Lansbury, both perfect casting) and he falls for the visiting "old maid from Toledeo" Echo O'Brien (Eva Marie Saint - also perfect as ever) - the fly in the ointment though is older brother Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty at his most) a never-do-well who returns home with predictable results ... its one of those rites of passage movies where Client finally realises his idolised older brother is no good and is in fact a dangerous, pitiable jerk who leeches onto women and cannot function in a relationship.
Set in Cleveland Ohio it has some lyrical black and white photography and some nice scenes set in Florida as Clint travels looking for his straying brother ... this is one I like a lot and have done for decades.