Thursday, May 30, 2013

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: Hud

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!




6 comments:

  1. so glad you joined us. welcome. Hope you'll continue on in July when we resume!

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    1. I will certainly do my best to! Now that I've finally committed to one, the others should be easier :-D

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  2. and I totally agree with you that the film is daring in its title character treatment. Is there a protagonist strippped this bare of virtue in other movies?

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    1. It was a pretty interesting decision. Sure, there have been protagonists who have been even more 'evil' than Hud. 'American Psycho' for one follows a psychopath wannabe serial killer. 'Henry' follows an actual serial killer, but what I find so daring about 'Hud' is that his character kind up sneaks up on us. I still remember the first time I saw the film. As the film progressed and I started to realize that Hud wasn't our typical 'hero' I was completely blindsided and for a split second I felt cheated and then I felt completely rewarded! LOL, I can only imagine half the audience of swooning Newman devotees being outraged that he was pretty much the villain here.

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  3. Had no idea you ranked this film so highly. I love Newman's performance, but the film isn't one of my favorites. That said, I've only seen it once.

    Excellent shot choice by the way. The last one of the honorable mentions is probably my favorite though.

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    1. I've loved this movie since I first saw it, nearly five years ago, but it has grown and grown in my esteem over the years and recent viewings.

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