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Hondo (DVD, 2005, Collector's Edition) Reviews
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Hondo (DVD, 2005, Collector's Edition)

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The Lost John Wayne: Hondo

May 17, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:John Wayne, Geraldine Page, Sam the Dog, story

Cons:This movie should be better known

The Bottom Line: Hondo is the quintessential John Wayne movie with all his mannerisms well in evidence. Excellent family entertainment.


Hondo (1953)

"A man ought to do what he thinks is right." Hondo

Hondo was a movie self-produced by actor John Wayne with his Batjac production company. Wayne originally intended pal Glenn Ford to play the starring role, but Ford has such unpleasant memories of working with director John Farrow he declined and Wayne cast himself to satisfy the box office requirement for a big star. Wayne had similar trouble with the earlier Blood Alley when leading actor Robert Mitchum playfully pushed a crewmember into San Francisco Bay and Director William Wellman demanded he be fired. Wayne ended up casting himself after unsuccessfully trying to cast Gregory Peck and then Humphrey Bogart.

Hondo is from the Louis L'Amour story "The Gift of Cochise," which concerns a half-breed army scout Hondo Lane (John Wayne) meets a homesteading woman and her son, on their spread way out in Apache country.

Wayne, who had developed his shtick into a finely honed routine by this time, offers the viewer a 100 proof distilled version of his manly man character that so many love so well. Hondo exhibits all the stoicism of his Apache half and the white man mannerisms of the all American John Wayne half, in short, a perfectly rendered paradigm of the prototypical John Wayne cowboy. I mention this only to underscore John Wayne's consummate acting ability, of which he usually does not receive adequate recognition.

Wayne worked hard to develop the cowboy persona and mannerisms that became his trademark and you can even see that his co-stars play off of him and mimic him to an extent. This is all intentional and is one of the small well-conceived touches that make his characters so likeable, even admirable, despite the respect they elicit.

Back to the movie: Geraldine Page stars as Angie Lowe who is waiting for her husband to return, or so she tells cavalry scout Hondo Lane when he appears at her isolated ranch seeking a horse. I guess I should mention Sam, Hondo's dog; and Angie has a ten year-old son, also, named "Johnny." Geraldine lies to Hondo and he sees through it in about five seconds. Rather than to get her to leave, he decides to hang around and protect them from the marauding Apaches; and what do you know, but Vittorio, famous Apache war chief, comes to the spread and Geraldine saves Wayne by telling Vittorio Wayne is her husband. Unbeknownst to her, Wayne had capped her real husband (Leo Gordon), when he tried to dry gulch him. More adventures ensue, and I think you ought to check it out for yourself because it is one of the most highly rated John Wayne movies by people who claim to be his fans.

Hondo was shot in 3 D and this process, designed to give movies something TV couldn’t mimic, lasted a very short time. The movie has been restored to its pristine state of perfection with the Warnercolor bright and shiny but with no 3 D or need for the silly glasses.

The characters of Hondo and Geraldine seem to be lived in and comfortable and there is a crackle of sexual undercurrent that even increases after Wayne tells Page what he did to her real husband. Of course, in 1953 they didn’t show them consummating their love, but it was quite evident they enjoyed each other immensely. The dog Sam also made an indelible impression. Familiar faces James Arness, Ward Bond, and Leo Gordon round out the cast.

The new DVD from Paramount has the 83-minute color movie and a whole raft of extra features, including an introduction and commentary by film critic Leonard Maltin, several featurettes, film trailers, subtitles, and still photos for your viewing pleasure.

All in all, if you haven’t seen Hondo, you will enjoy it. If you have, you need to add this DVD to your collection.

Thanks for stopping by!


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