Rated: Not Rated
Length: 111 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio: DD 5.1 English; English, French Mono
Paul Newman’s “Hud” is a despicable character, really. He’s a man who cares for nobody but himself, takes no responsibility for his actions, and doesn’t care who he alienates in life - even if it means shutting out his own family.
Hud Bannon is the rebellious adult son of a Texas rancher in the 1960’s. His traditional father (Melvyn Douglas) manages to tolerate him. His nephew at first admires him, but later questions his feelings. He’s well-known throughout town, as the man who has slept without just about every married woman in town - but he can’t seem to score with the Bannon’s housekeeper (Patricia Neal).
When the Bannon’s entire herd is threatened with the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease, instead of offering support to his aging father, Hud blames his father for the infection and threatens to take the ranch away from him. The character’s actions revolve around this focal point in the film, but the film is not “about” the ranch and its troubles. Hud is a character study and a morality play.
Throughout the film, we get glimpses of the consequences of Hud’s past - but the focus is always on the present. Even at the film’s end, when we could get a pat Hollywood ending that spells out the future, we are left “in the moment,” with Hud’s actions front and center. We are left to imagine the long-term consequences of Hud’s acts. Will Hud reconcile with his family? Will he take over the ranch and drill for oil, or will he rebuild the herd as his father wishes? Knowing Hud, as we do by the end of the film, we’re pretty sure we know the answers to these questions.
Hud is filled with outstanding performances. Douglas and Neal won Academy Awards for their performances, and Newman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. The film is based on a novel by Larry McMurtry and was directed by Martin Ritt. It is a wonderful, gritty slice-of-life film with excellent location photography (Hud was also awarded a statue for Best Cinematography).
Hud is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 - in glorious black and white. The transfer is quite bright, with excellent contrast and black levels, and outstanding shadow detail. The picture is very sharp, with no apparent edge enhancement. There is some dust visible on the transfer elements, but the print is free of any serious damage. If only every 40 year old film could look this nice on DVD. This is an excellent transfer.
Hud comes with a restored English Mono sound track, as well as a remixed 5.1 surround track. Both of the tracks sound wonderful. The restored mono track has been nicely cleaned up. It is free of hiss, and dialog is very clear. The 5.1 track opens the aural experience up a bit, adding ambient sound effects that seem apropos - not at all gimmicky. Dialog in the surround track is always front and center. There are some panning and surround effects for vehicle traffic and sounds of the cattle herd. Music is well reproduced as well. Frequency response is solid in both tracks. EXCELLENT!
There is also a French Mono track.
There are no extras. This is a bare-bones catalog release.
Hud is an engaging character study with very strong performances from the entire cast. Well directed, written and photographed, this one is not to be missed. Paramount has provided a beautiful transfer of this classic film on DVD.