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Author Topic: Hud (1963)  (Read 14880 times)
stanton
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« Reply #45 on: May 20, 2013, 05:30:49 AM »

well, it's a general fact that viewers tend to root for the main character of a movie, period, even when he is not a good guy, and especially if he is a famous actor like Newman.

That's not a fact, that's an assumption. I often cheer for the bad guy. I hoped that Sentenza wins the triello in GBU and I favoured Fonda in OuTW. I think that the audience very often finds the baddie more fascinating than the hero. and more attractive. It depends on the individual film.
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And you can excuse something here or there that he has done, but by the end of it, you realize he is just an unlikeable bastard.
Not for me.
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Let's see: Hud's drunk driving killed his brother (normally, I'd consider that no different than I'd consider any murderer, but his brother presumably knew Hud was drunk and therefore accepted the risks; so maybe it ain't like a typical murder, but it's pretty damn bad). He drinks all day long and unashamedly goes after married women (something many movie heroes do; in and of itself, it wouldn't make you hate him all that much); he is generally a rude, nasty son of a bitch; he is about to rape a woman if she wasn't saved by his nephew; he is a mean bastard to his nephew who never did anything wrong to him, in fact he idolizes him; he is a dishonest person who wants to sell diseased cattle, thereby cheating the buyer and risking starting a cattle epidemic; and he conspires to steal his father's farm from him.

Now, what does Hud have that makes him sympathetic -- I mean the character, not considering that it's played by the famous sexy lovable Paul Newman -- well, he's misunderstood and has daddy issues. His father has never been nice to him.  Cry Cry Cry Well I'm sorry, that's truly an awful thing to have to go through, but you know what, at 34 years old, that's no excuse to be such a bastard to everyone else. At most, that excuses his actions toward his father, but that's all. His attempted rape of a woman is not in any way mitigated by any of his daddy issues.

So yeah, in my book Hud is a bad person, a character worthy only of the audience's contempt. Certainly not all along -- it takes a lot to hate a Paul Newman character, and a while to realize the full extent of his evilness, but yeah, by the end of the movie, Hud is, in my book, an unmitigated, unsympathetic villain. Even if he is played by Paul Newman and fun to watch.

Well, I haven't seen the complete film for ages, only the last 30 min last year, but you probably haven't understood the film. You still have sometimes (formerly very often) a very strange one dimensional look at films, but meanwhile you often also surprise me positively. So, there is hope for you. Wink

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« Reply #46 on: May 20, 2013, 06:05:46 AM »

That's not a fact, that's an assumption. I often cheer for the bad guy. I hoped that Sentenza wins the triello in GBU and I favoured Fonda in OuTW. I think that the audience very often finds the baddie more fascinating than the hero. and more attractive. It depends on the individual film.Not for me.


You may have misunderstood me:

When it's bad guy vs. good guy, you may find the bad guy more interesting and root for him. I agree with that. But that's not what I am talking about.

I am talking about a case where the main character is a bad bastard and it's not really him against anyone else -- it's just a question of do you like him or not. That's what I am talking about. When a film has one clear main character, audiences will often root for him even if he is a bastard. Like with Hud -- it's not really him vs. anyone else; it's just a question of do you like/sympathize Hud or not? And the bottom line is that we generally sympathize with the main character of a movie, even when he is a jerk.
I agree with Roger Ebert's opening sentence of his Arbitrage review http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/arbitrage-2012
"We tend to identify with the leading character of a film, even if he is a heartless bastard." Really, is there anyone who saw Arbitrage and wasn't rooting for Richard Gere to get away with his crimes. Even though there isn't anyone who could actually justify everything he has done.


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BY THE WAY, as an aside: No one who isn't a very evil human being could root for Frank to beat Harmonica in that duel. Frank is one of the cruelest villains of any Western, massacring an entire family without batting an eye: there are a lot of terrible actions we excuse from a movie character, but murdering children in cold blood is not one of them; and (while we don't know what Harmonica's brother did to Frank), the way Frank  forces Harmonica to participate in his own brother's death is Nazi-like.
Nobody loves Henry Fonda more than I do, and nobody loves watching Frank more than I do, but only a very evil human being could root for Frank to beat Harmonica in that duel

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« Reply #47 on: May 20, 2013, 08:31:14 AM »

He he, actually I'm not that evil, not yet. But still hoped that Fond wins. In real life I would vote for Bronson, but in a film I chose those who are more interesting, and Fonda has the better role, and is the more fascinating actor.
How can one be interested in such an empty character like Harmonica?

And for Hud, he is much too complex and ambivalent to simply despise him as a bad bastard. And Hud is not the type of film which divides its characters in simple good and bad. In real life I wouldn't have him as my neighbor, but in a film I like him.

I also felt pity at the end of Schindler's list for the Ralph Fiennes character, and that was one who really deserved death.

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« Reply #48 on: May 20, 2013, 09:28:26 AM »

For me, the movie succeeds most in its simplest scenes, and fails when it tries to reach too deep for the Freudian stuff. Maybe I didn't get it all. I probably didn't; it was definitely a transitional time in American history and movies. But IMO it reached for something that wasn't there or which it couldn't attain with all the deep stuff, but when it came to the stuff that could simply be enjoyed in the surface, it was beautiful. That scene with Newman and Neal, with the dialogue talking about scratching her itch, that was such a brilliant scene, comparable to the scene with Lee Marvin and Randolph Scott in  the wagon in Seven Men from Now. All the scenes with Neal and Newman, and Neal and de Wilde, and Melvyn Douglas was great, the simple joy of the sing-along to My Darling Clementine in the theater... For me, the movie maybe was trying too hard to reach somewhere deep that it may not have succeeded in, but there is much to enjoy.
I don't get why you think the movie was reaching for something more profound then what is clearly stated. Hud is a bastard. It takes a while for the audience to figure that out--audiences usually start out by extending sympathy to lead characters--but it becomes clear by the end of the picture. Once you realize that, though, the film is plain and easily understood. The Melvin Douglas character is the noble old guard passing away to make room for the Huds of this world--the pattern is archetypal. Golden Ages give way to silver, even bronze ones. But even as the Huds appear, there is also the Brandon De Wildes appearing who won't settle for that and will strive to repair the world. So more Golden Ages are possible. The cycle continues.

There's nothing Freudian going on in the picture as far as I can tell. As the Great Fraudster might have said, Sometimes sex is just sex.

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« Reply #49 on: May 20, 2013, 09:46:14 AM »


And for Hud, he is much too complex and ambivalent to simply despise him as a bad bastard. And Hud is not the type of film which divides its characters in simple good and bad. In real life I wouldn't have him as my neighbor, but in a film I like him.
Your personal feelings in the matter are less important than the feelings of the film's characters toward Hud. It's the responses of those characters that tell us how to read the film. When his father tells him off we know that someone who knows him well has damned him. Later, when Patricia Neal leaves town, the look in her eyes during her final exchange with Hud tell us that she likewise condemns him. Finally, the Brandon de Wilde kid who began the movie hero-worshipping Hud can't stand to be in the same state with him by the end. These mark the three most significant relationships Hud has in the film. There is no counter-weight to balance matters: Hud is a drag on all who know him. He may amuse you, but then, you don't have to put up with him.

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« Reply #50 on: May 20, 2013, 12:08:30 PM »

He he, actually I'm not that evil, not yet. But still hoped that Fond wins. In real life I would vote for Bronson, but in a film I chose those who are more interesting, and Fonda has the better role, and is the more fascinating actor.
How can one be interested in such an empty character like Harmonica?

And for Hud, he is much too complex and ambivalent to simply despise him as a bad bastard. And Hud is not the type of film which divides its characters in simple good and bad. In real life I wouldn't have him as my neighbor, but in a film I like him.

I also felt pity at the end of Schindler's list for the Ralph Fiennes character, and that was one who really deserved death.

Harmonica is an empty character? Dude, like, seriously. Maybe for you, any character who is anything less than an evil bastard is boring.

You felt pity for the fucking Nazi? (Yeah, I guess the Jews were probably boring empty characters). Why does that not surprise me? What surprises me is why I even bother responding to you.

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« Reply #51 on: May 20, 2013, 12:30:08 PM »

Your personal feelings in the matter are less important than the feelings of the film's characters toward Hud. It's the responses of those characters that tell us how to read the film. When his father tells him off we know that someone who knows him well has damned him. Later, when Patricia Neal leaves town, the look in her eyes during her final exchange with Hud tell us that she likewise condemns him. Finally, the Brandon de Wilde kid who began the movie hero-worshipping Hud can't stand to be in the same state with him by the end. These mark the three most significant relationships Hud has in the film. There is no counter-weight to balance matters: Hud is a drag on all who know him. He may amuse you, but then, you don't have to put up with him.

Yes, it's a film, not my real life. Big difference.

And for that my feelings are very important. At least more than those of the film's characters.

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« Reply #52 on: May 20, 2013, 12:51:33 PM »

Harmonica is an empty character? Dude, like, seriously. Maybe for you, any character who is anything less than an evil bastard is boring.

You felt pity for the fucking Nazi? (Yeah, I guess the Jews were probably boring empty characters). Why does that not surprise me? What surprises me is why I even bother responding to you.

Maybe because you don't really read what I write. And maybe because you don't understand that films generally can generate very different emotions and conclusions for the same films or scenes. What you feel about a film must not be the same others feel about the same film. Things are not that easy.

And your conclusions (which are hilarious) have nothing to do with my reply.

No, the Jews were not boring empty characters (and that can't be the conclusion because Harmonica is one), and Harmonica isn't boring, too. But he has no inner life. He seems only to consist of his surface. He isn't a fleshed out character, so he is less interesting for me than the other 4 main protagonists. But still his character works very fine in the film's narrative structure, and in the way he is set against the other characters. That's one reason why OUTW is a masterpiece.

No, not anything less than an evil bastard is boring. In fact many film baddies are also empty boring characters. Depends on the films.

What I said about the ending of Schindler's list (when Fiennes gets hanged) does not mean what you make out of it. It was an example that reactions to films can be more tricky than you think.

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« Reply #53 on: May 20, 2013, 01:17:10 PM »

Yes, it's a film, not my real life. Big difference.

And for that my feelings are very important. At least more than those of the film's characters.
To you. Not to anyone else on the board. The basis of a discussion here has to be grounded in what happens in the film.

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« Reply #54 on: May 21, 2013, 02:23:29 AM »

To you. Not to anyone else on the board. The basis of a discussion here has to be grounded in what happens in the film.

Of course, but also to what I think what happens in a film, and that must not be the same for every viewer. That may differ due to different cultural codes. Profound interpretations of films are sometimes diametrically opposed.

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