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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return to form., 10 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Hondo [DVD] [1953] (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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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Jan 2010 09:46:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jan 2010 15:06:41 GMT
That dog is never Lassie, Captain. Lassie was some sort of mongrel, surely - a cross between a St Bernard and a Chihuahua, if I remember aright (the latter named after the Hondo location shoot, of course.) Why have Alsatian dogs been reclassified as German shepherds, anyway? Not sure if you have the version with commentary, but if you haven't, you'll be shocked to learn that Geraldine Page hardly took a shower or brushed her teeth (let's hope NHS dentists were thicker on the ground in her day and didn't want to play soft music while they took the upper half of your jaw off and then charged you an arm and a leg for the privilege) for the duration of the shoot, and John Wayne (poor shrinking violet) turned all squeamish when he had to kiss her. I thought a man had to do what a man had to do; apparently not. Mind you, I'll be charitable and hazard that these bad teeth days may have been because she'd been got at by the method actors and wanted to get into character - grubby, wood-chopping, hairy-armpitted, moustachioed single woman alone on the ranch &c.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2010 21:13:31 GMT
Bob Salter says:
I'll have to do a bit more research to check this Lassie thing out! I hate innaccuracies.(Whoops, did I spell that right!) I still feel ashamed of stupidly saying that Frankie Lane sang High Noon, when it was poor old Tex Ritter. Praise be that I was very soon told the error of my ways. I still itch from the memory of the hair shirt! That Indian who speared poor lassie (Think it was good old Rodolfo Acosta in another Indian role, when he wasn't playing a smiling Mexican bandit), or was it Chihuahua certainly upset the The Duke. He was just asking for it!




Posted on 26 Nov 2014 21:11:44 GMT
KaleHawkwood says:
Your review has been printed twice - you might want to delete one of them.
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Review Details



Bob Salter

Location: Wiltshire, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 106