Hombre

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HOMBRE—-a good, if persistently downbeat 1967 western, directed by Martin Ritt. Apart from a few vivid moments of action, in the main it proceeds in a measured pace, studying several characters in their interaction on a stagecoach ride through some broiling desert landscapes.

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Ultra-stoic ‘John Russell’ (Paul Newman) is a white raised by Apaches, with a deep-rooted mistrust of everyone. He’s saddled with earthy Diane Cilento (doing a good job masking her British accent), unscrupulous Indian agent Fredric March and his snooty wife Barbara Rush, calm Martin Balsam and brutish Richard Boone. Outlaws interrupt the trip and moments of truth break a sweat as the motley groups individual strengths and weaknesses cook under the blistering Arizona heat.

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Intelligent screenplay (Irving Ravetch & Harriet Frank Jr adapting Elmore Leonard’s novel) has Ritt directing Newman for the sixth time. March and Balsam stand out.  Well reviewed, it made $12,000,000, hitting 19th for the year, but it still came up short due to a budget that hit $5,860,000. The star’s lucky run of ‘H’ movies—The Hustler, Hud and Harper— called it a day here.

Memorable for Newman’s breaking a  whiskey glass across the insulting sneer of David Canary, and for bandito Frank Silvera’s laid back pronunciation of “hombre”. 111 minutes, with Peter Lazer, Margaret Blye, Cameron Mitchell, Larry Ward, Val Avery and Skip Ward.

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