Saturday, April 12, 2014

HONDO (1953)

Way off out in the middle of the unsettled New Mexico Territory, homesteader Geraldine Page sees a lone man walking across the desert towards her house.  She and her young son are all alone since her husband left...but this isn't her husband returning.  No, it's Army despatch (yes, it's spelt with an e) rider Hondo Lane (John Wayne).  He got his ass kicked a few days ago by some Indians and now he's without a horse.  Once rested up he does some chores around the house in exchange for a horse.  While he's at it he makes quite an impression on Geraldine.  He can't lollygag around though, he needs to get back and tell the Army that the Apaches are gearing up for war!  Will Wayne and Geraldine's paths cross again?

I liked HONDO.  The story is a little different than your average cowboys versus Indians story thanks to the fact that the Indians were actually portrayed as humans and not just bloodthirsty savages.  The relationship between Wayne and Geraldine was believable and I thought she was fantastic.  I knew she was a master from her performance in INTERIORS, but seeing her give a performance nearly to the same level 25 years earlier was quite surprising.  Beautiful photography, Ward Bond with a beard, quick pace, James Arness in a small role, cute looking dog.  Worth a watch for western fans.

One interesting fact about HONDO is when the production went over schedule director John Farrow (yes, Mia's father) had to leave to start on his next project so John Ford was brought in (uncredited) to finish the job!  How crazy is that?!