- Hombre (film)
Infobox Film | name =Hombre
caption =original film poster
Harriet Frank Jr.
Paul Newman Fredric March Richard Boone
James Wong Howe
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
March 21, 1967 U.S. release
runtime = 111 min.
language = English
imdb_id = 0061770
"Hombre" is a 1967
Revisionist Westernfilm directed by Martin Ritt, based on the novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard. It stars Paul Newmanin the title role. Newman's amount of dialogue in the film is minimal and much of the role is conveyed through mannerism and action. This was the sixth and final time Ritt directed Newman, they had previously worked together on The Long Hot Summer, Paris Blues, Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man, Hud (1963 film)and The Outrage.
Hombre means MAN... Paul Newman is HOMBRE!
Set in late 19th-century Arizona, the film stars Paul Newman as an
Apache-raised white man, John Russell, who faces prejudice in the white world after he returns for his inheritance (a gold watch and a boarding house) upon his father's death. Deciding to sell the house in order to buy a herd of horses elsewhere--which does not endear him to the boarders who live there or to the caretaker, Jessie ( Diane Cilento)--Russell ends up riding a stagecoach with a few of the boarders. Three others ride with them: Indian agent Professor Alexander Favor ( Fredric March), Dr. Favor's aristocratic wife Audra ( Barbara Rush), and the crude Cicero Grimes ( Richard Boone). Eventually Mrs. Favor dislikes Russell enough to request that he ride up top with driver Henry Mendez ( Martin Balsam). The stagecoach is soon robbed by a gang that is led by Grimes, who knew that Dr. Favor had been carrying money that he stole from the very Apaches Newman grew up with. After shooting two of the gang members (one of whom was Jessie's boyfriend and sheriff-gone-bad Frank ( Cameron Mitchell)), and insisting that Dr. Favor give the recovered money back to him, Russell finds that the very bigots he rode with now rely on "him" to lead them to safety. However, his survivalist and perhaps "primitive" instincts often clash with their naive and "civilized" attitudes towards others, especially when Grimes and his remaining gang (who have Mrs. Favor as a hostage) find them and offer to trade Mrs. Favor for the money. At first reluctant to save Mrs. Favor, Russell's pity for her eventually outweighs his dislike. He takes the money to Grimes and his gang, and a gunfight ensues. Russell kills Grimes, but immediately afterward a member of the gang shoots Russell down dead.
"Hombre" is a very typical western of the 1960's, being one of several films portraying the situation of the Native Americans in a different and more true way than what had previously been custom in westerns. The film shows the need for both Indian and non-Indian alike to cooperate with each other for their mutual benefit. The subplot focuses on the hypocrisy and duality of respectable citizens.
Most reviews of the film are positive. Critics praise the performance of Newman and the writing of
Elmore Leonard. Movie critic Roger Ebert, in a 1967 review, notes "The performances are uniformly excellent. Three particularly pleasing ones, however, were from Diane Cilento, the boarding house operator who talks Hombre into his ethical heroics; Richard Booneas the villainous Cicero Grimes, and Martin Balsam, as the good Mexican. Ritt directs with a steady hand, and the dialog by Irving Ravetchand Harriet Flank bears listening to. It's intelligent, and has a certain grace as well. Last year, Richard Brooks' The Professionalswas the best-directed film out of Hollywood, and this year it looks as if the honors may rest with Martin Ritt and "Hombre"." Ebert gave the film a rating of three and a half out of four possible stars in his review. [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19670421/REVIEWS/704210301/1023] "Hombre" has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it a very "fresh" film. It also has 7.3 out of 10 on IMDb.
*John Russell is referred to as 'tres Hombres' at one point; this is a nickname he earned while working for the Indian police in the reservation. He fought like three men, therefore 'tres Hombres'.
*The film has some similar plot elements and incidents in common with another Leonard-written film,
The Tall T, which also featured Richard Booneas the villain.
*"Hombre" is Paul Newman's fourth and final "H" film of the 1960's, a quartet that includes
The Hustler (film), Harper (film), and another of his six collaborations with Martin Ritt, Hud (film). In all of these films Newman perfected the role of the anti-hero, a type of character he is closely associated with. Newman's anti-hero culminated with Cool Hand Lukein 1967, and he played one version in the lesser known Paris Blues, which was also directed by Martin Ritt. Roger Ebert, in his 1967 review of Cool Hand Luke said this about Newman's anti-hero portrayals: "He's been in movies where he is a fairly ordinary guy in a fairly ordinary situation, (...) except he won't be pushed. He knows his own mind. The bad guys in his movies don't like that, and so they try to break him. And he fights back, no matter how much it hurts. If the characters he has played stopped there, they would be more or less conventional heroes. But they don't. Although they exhibit heroic stubbornness and integrity, they're not very likable. For on thing, they're loners. For another, they don't seem to have basic human feelings. They do rotten things and don't fell bad. They're cold and aloof, (...) We'd break a guy like Paul Newman if we had the chance, because he's a troublemaker, a malcontent, a loner. That's the kind of guy he played in all those movies, beginning with H ("The Hustler," "Hud," "Harper," "Hombre"). He smiled at the idiots who were crossing him. He didn't care what people thought. And a subtle change took place: The hero stopped wanting to be a hero." Ebert also commented specifically on "Hombre": (During "Hombre") the Newman character gained a degree of self-understanding. Newman played a white man who had been raised by Indians and adopted their way of life. He becomes joined to a party of travelers who are all incapable of protecting themselves and coping with the Western badlands. So Newman is the hero, the guy who can handle things and defend the weak. Only he doesn't want to. He despises the travelers and sees no need to endanger his own life to save theirs. They talk about courage and duty, and he says he doesn't know what the words mean. In the end, he does sacrifice himself to save a member of the party, but he doesn't feel good about it. (The ending) proves the uselessness of being a hero. Where will it get you?" [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19671203/REVIEWS/712030301/1023]
*Kevin Costner lists this as one of his favorite films, and considered remaking it around the time when he did
The Untouchables (1987 film). He has not followed up on the idea, but contributed to the western genre with Dances with Wolvesand Open Range.
"Hombre" profile in the New York Times [http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/22854/Hombre/overview]
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