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Hombre
USA 1967
Directed by Martin Ritt
Running time 111 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


Released shortly after Sergio Leone's Man With No Name movie, A Fistful of Dollars, Hombre, Ritt's film about a Man With Almost No Name, a taciturn outsider with no concern for conventional morality, is a film that has unjustly been forgotten.

Perhaps it was because the lead role is played by Paul Newman as a white man who was raised by Apaches, not to mention Martin Balsam as a Mexican that the film appears to be too conventionally "old school" Hollywood whilst Ritt's approach is probably too intellectual to gain broad appeal with fans of the Western genre. It is however an interesting film, comparable also with Peckinpah's interest in questions of honour, morality and "doing the right thing", well-scripted by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr with crisp photography, by the legendary James Wong Howe and directed with economy by Ritt, a much under-valued director (his films include the Newman-starring Hud, 1963 and The Long, Hot Summer, 1958)) . The cast is also excellent. Besides Newman and Balsam, there is Diane Cilento (then married to Sean Connery), and screen veteran Fredric March as the spineless Favor who represents public probity at its worst.

Perhaps Ritt allows the film to comes to a too quick or too understated a resolution in a questionably handled shoot-out and I'd sure like to know what happened to the third baddy, who if he'd stuck around would have had a more-than-fair chance at the loot.

 

 

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