James Wong Howe must have been in love with Paul Newman. I say this in a completely joking manner, but what I mean is that the film he served as DP on (‘Hud’) is such a beautifully focused film on the actor that one can’t help but keep their eyes glued to his every movement. ‘Hud’ has always been one of my favorites. Resting nicely in my top fifteen films of all time, ‘Hud’ carries with it a complete package. It is staggering in its insightful character development, daring to make its protagonist a bear of a man and refusing to lace him with any redemptive qualities. Instead, the film brilliantly strips him of all worthy traits and leaves us, upon the closing, with a man worthy of nothing but loathing. While the focal point is always Hud, the film captures the effect the man and his actions have on the ones around him, the ones who are trying desperately to hold onto him. Lonnie idolizes him and Alma cares and almost loves him and yet his decent into unbridled malice leave them with empty hands and hearts.
So this month, with ‘Hud’ as the focal point, I decided to finally participate in Nate’s HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT. I have wanted to get involved with this for a while, since the series is so much fun to read and is a great way to gather other’s ideas of certain films. The sad truth is that I usually forget all about it until it is too late and I’m struggling to either rewatch the film or find images that connect with me (since my technical savvy isn’t as savvy as I want it to be).
The bottom line with visuals rests in the treatment of Newman. He is always this lingering presence and he is always owning this character. Whether he is in the background or imposing on the forefront, he burns through the lens with this agitated sexuality that consumes every frame. Finding a shot of him that was stronger than the last or that conveyed more than the one before it was difficult, since a case can be made for nearly all of them. But I had to choose (talk about Sophie’s choice here) and at the end of the day I had to go with one of the closing shots of Hud, driving away from his former life and out of Lonnie’s life. The face, the solitary moment sums up the man himself in a way that the rest of the film was only leading up to.
|The Best Shot!|
UGH, but here are some very honorable mentions!