My kind of Western. So this is about a half white, half Apache man (Paul Newman) who inherits a property and moves back to civilization. He faces the scorn of some passengers on a stage coach due to his ethnicity, but the tables may be a turning when they find themselves needing him. I didn’t know anything about this before I sat down to take the time, but I will always give a Western the benefit of the doubt, given the affection I have towards the genre. I was blown away with not only how good this is, but also how I’ve gone so long without ever hearing about this.
Believe it or not, I’m really not all that familiar with Paul Newman’s library; I’ve seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and I’ve seen the Hudsucker Proxy, but that’s about it. I have to say, the man has an incredible screen presence about him, and it is the kind that makes you instantly gravitate towards him. He even manages to successfully pull off playing a half breed, which is nuts, because he is about as Aryan as they come. He plays one cool cucumber that has one-liners for days, and watching this movie really made me realize what helps the most to crafting the anti-hero: make him a man of few words. There are a few speeches Newman’s character of John Russell doles out, but for the most part, he sticks to abbreviated responses of five words or less. It gives him an air of extreme confidence that makes you want to be that character.
Apart from Newman, all of the other supporting characters are great, and you have a very memorable villain played by Richard Boone. You understand the dichotomy of the relationships of all of these passengers, and it helps to build this microcosm in this small little carriage. They actually have some pretty insightful commentary on race relations; I know here it is specifically Apache by name, but you could easily exchange any minority for the discrimination that these people are facing. This is a sleeper Western that not many people talk about; and I can only imagine that is because it’s not 100% feel good (I don’t want to get into spoilers). The print of this that is currently available in Netflix is in super-clean HD, and looks like it could’ve been shot yesterday. There’s a brilliant scene smack dab in middle of this that just made me want to cheer, and this is a must-see for any Western lover.
Hombre (1967) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire