Monday, December 20, 2004

Shark Watches HUD again...

Watched "HUD" (1963) again this weekend. Oh. My. Gawd.

(1963 was the year when America's innocence died. If you lived through that year, it's impossible to forget.)

HUD is one of those rare films that actually deserved the many Oscars it received. Patricia Neal and Melvin Douglas - for acting: James Wong Howe for gorgeous B&W cinematography. (Newman didn't get an Oscar for his acting even though he probably deserved it. Few actors have eaten up the screen like Newman did as Hud, and the only case of an equivalent was in COOL HAND LUKE (1967) which Shark believes to be the Greatest Film Ever Made, by the way.

Oh, the beauty of this classic black and white. The disregard for standard lighting 'logic' and conventions -- which adds to the beauty and other-worldliness of this film.

Story was adapted from the great Larry McMurtry's first novel, "Horseman Pass By" -- a Texan family is torn between two philosophies, a common dichotomy -- new vs traditional, young vs old, nihilism vs tradition, selfishness vs compassion, greed vs altruism -- or in writer Arthur Koestler's terms:

self-assertive -vs- self transcendent,
ie. inner vs outer,
preservation of the self -vs- harmony with the greater good,
I,Me,Mine -vs- family, tribe, community

This film also contains one of the most powerful, classic, and quotable lines in all of film history -- and is ESPECIALLY applicable today:

Hud's father, Homer Bannon says:

"...Little by little, the look of the country changes because of the men we admire. You're just going to have to make up your own mind one day about what's right and wrong."

One is reminded of the loss of the admirable characters of our narrative myths -- replaced by a cultural landscape teeming with steroid studs, singer sluts, killer crazies, rapists, sports heroes, shock jocks, fake faith healers, con men, weighlifting/actor/governor, politicians who lie-cheat-steal, etc etc etc ad infinitum.

I was also reminded that we're sort of past the era when films could have 'negative' endings like HUD's. Maybe not.

Tragedy is as old as drama, but most moronic Americans want feel-good-popcorn crap to keep their tiny limbic regions from contemplating the meaninglessness of their lives. It's "too depressing" -- which means Shakespeare would be shit out of luck if he were writing for Hollywood these days.

"The comedies are great, Willie, but forget that stuff with the sad endings. Nobody wants to leave the theater on a bummer..."


Anyway, check out HUD sometime soon. It's a masterpiece.


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