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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Return to Form, 5 April 2009
This review is from: Hondo [DVD] [1954] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"Hondo" made in 1953 is based on the short story "The Gift of Cochise", by that prolific writer of Westerns Louis L'Amour. It was something of a forgotten Western for many years until it came out on VHS a few years ago. It had long been in the vaults of John Waynes Batjac Estate. The early fifties was not the best period for Wayne fans. He made a crop of poor films such as "Big Jim McLain", "Trouble along the Way" and "Island in the Sky", but Hondo is a very pleasant return to form in his favourite genre.

The story concerns a Calvalry scout Hondo Lane played by Wayne and his relationship with a frontier woman Angie Lowe played by the stage actress Geraldine Page and her young son. (The role of Mrs Lowe was offered to Katherine Hepburn who turned it down) They live in an isolated ranch endangered by hostile Apache Indians led by their great leader Vittorio. During the story Lane clashes with both the Apache and Mrs Lowes husband gone bad. We head to an exciting finale.

The film was directed by the Australian John Farrow and also starred Ward Bond as Buffalo, Lanes sidekick. Lassie also throws in a performance as Lanes faithful dog Sam. The scenes of the Apache are surprisingly realistic given the period and it was not until the seventies with Aldrich's "Ulzanas Raid" that this realism was surpassed. Scenes from Hondo were used poignantly in Waynes last film "The Shootist" in the opening homage to his long career.

The film is a simple enough story but it is good entertainment. The colour filming is quite striking and picks up those glorious Western hues to good effect. Well actually Mexican hues as it was filmed at Camargo in that country. The role of Lane fits Wayne perfectly like an old worn favourite stetson. A memorable scene was Lanes unorthodox method of teaching Mrs Lowes young son to swim. Mrs Lowe in the process of adding she is also a non swimmer, halts mid sentence and decides to run for it, not wishing to share her sons fate. Overall a very enjoyable Western. Although not a classic it was one of Waynes better films
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Location: Wiltshire, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 94