Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Hombre at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 26, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)
Genre: Western
Director: Martin Ritt
Starring: Paul Newman, Fredric March, Diane Cilento, Richard Boone, Barbara Rush, Martin Balsam
Rated: NR

Martin Ritt’s Hombre (1967) brings to a close what could be called Paul Newman’s “H-picture” days—The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Hombre—and sometimes gets overlooked because it came out the same year as the more iconic Cool Hand Luke. It probably doesn’t help that the testosterone-soaked Hombre is also a kind of last-gasp traditional Western that makes tentative stabs at modernity that feel kind of off kilter today. The attempts at more adult—or at least frank—dialogue came a year too soon to benefit from the advent of the MPAA ratings system and seem rather quaint and certainly tepid. The tragic climax feels like a typical 1960s “feel bad” embellishment (complete with fake irony) meant to prove to the viewer that this is important fare—just in case they missed the significance of the movie’s racial tolerance message. With Martin Ritt at the helm, that wasn’t likely anyway.

The truth of the matter is that Hombre is a pretty good little Western with every genre trope firmly in place, an unusually impressive cast and around 15 to 20 minutes more footage than it needs. In essence, it’s Paul Newman as the white man who’s a social outcast because he was raised by Indians, but whose pragmatism and skills make him the only person on a stagecoach capable of dealing with the situation when robbery (you’ll have no trouble spotting the snake in their midst) and kidnapping occur. As horse-opera entertainment, it’s not bad. As an important adult Western, really the more playful Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) seems a lot more sincere.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.