Hud (1962)

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Released 2-Jun-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1962
Running Time 107:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:36) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Martin Ritt
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Paul Newman
Melvyn Douglas
Patricia Neal
Brandon de Wilde
Whit Bissell
Crahan Denton
John Ashley
Val Avery
George Petrie
Curt Conway
Sheldon Allman
Pitt Herbert
Carl Low
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Elmer Bernstein


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
German
Greek
Spanish
French
Hebrew
Croatian
Icelandic
Italian
Hungarian
Dutch
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Slovenian
Serbian
Finnish
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Titling
French Titling
Italian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Hud is a modern western set somewhere in the Texas cattle country. Hud (Paul Newman) is a handsome, selfish, self-centred and arrogant man in his mid-30s, who spends much of his time with women whose husbands are out of town, and the rest of the time drinking. He lives on a cattle ranch with his pappy Homer (Melvyn Douglas), his 17 year old nephew Lonnie (Brandon de Wilde) and Alma, the housekeeper who lives in a separate cabin (Patricia Neal).

    A heifer dies mysteriously. Hud wants to bury the animal and pretend nothing has happened, but the upright Homer calls the government vet to determine how the heifer died. The vet suspects that it is foot and mouth disease, and the farm is quarantined while tests are performed.

    This film is a character study, and therefore the action comes from the relationships between the characters rather than any external events. Lonnie is coming of age, starting to get interested in women and finding his own place in the world. He is attracted by Hud's easy charm, but at the same time repelled by his excessive and amoral behaviour. Homer is an upright and dignified old man, conscious that his time is getting short but still determined to do things the right way. Alma steers clear of men after being deserted by her husband, and behind the tough facade you can sense some vulnerability.

    In some ways this film is very Freudian, with the stoic and principled Homer trying to lead Lonnie up the straight and narrow, while Hud tempts him with his self-indulgent ways. But that would be too simple, and the real meat of the film is the contrast between Homer's values of honesty, decency and concern for his fellow man, and the amoral Hud, who in his father's words just doesn't give a damn. There is a suggestion that this is a mirror of the America of the time, built on ideals but increasingly being controlled by avarice and self-interest.

    Hud is full of exceptional performances drawn out of the actors by director Martin Ritt. Newman gives one of his best as the title character, believable and charming while being repellent at the same time. 1930s matinee idol Douglas took a decade off from films to carve out a career as a stage actor, and in his second film back is a tower of strength as the ageing Homer. The film is seen through the eyes of Lonnie, and Brandon de Wilde, grown up from the young boy in Shane, is very good, showing characteristics of both Homer and Hud and making it believable. Patricia Neal is a superb Alma, winning an Academy Award for her work, as did Douglas. Neal would suffer a series of strokes soon after which severely curtailed her career, though she did eventually recover.

    This is a richly enjoyable film, beautifully photographed by veteran cinematographer James Wong Howe, with an excellent sense of time and place. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    In general this is a good transfer, but could have been better.

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Generally the film is quite sharp, although not perfectly so. I was actually a little disappointed that this transfer was not better, as you can tell that there is a layer of detail that seems to be missing. You can see the creases in Hud's forehead as he frowns, but you can't see any more detail than that. Homer also should have more wrinkles than can be seen.

    Shadow detail is satisfactory, though the contrast levels seem to be a bit higher than they should be. The black levels in this black and white film are good, but I never felt that I saw a rich and even black image at any time. This was possibly due to the level of grain present, as well as film artefacts.

    There is some aliasing in this transfer, though most of the time it is held in check. Edge enhancement is present throughout, which is a little distracting.

    There are some film artefacts, but these are mainly white specks indicating minor nicks to the print material. Most of the time they are not noticeable, as much of the background is light grey. During the night scenes they are quite visible, and sometimes there are more than just a few.

    Subtitles are provided, and are clear and distinct. There is a lot of dialogue, and often the subtitles are an abbreviation of what is being said.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change at 53:36, positioned at a cut during a scene, and is therefore a little disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two English language audio tracks, the default Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital 2.0 "restored mono" track. I listened to the former and sampled the latter.

    There is not really much in this soundtrack for a surround mix to do, so the 5.1 track is basically a 3.0 track. The music tends to get some output from the rear channels, but apart from underscoring some gunfire and motor vehicle noise the subwoofer is silent. Generally it sounds pretty good despite not being authentic. The restored mono track sounds better in my opinion, with little noise and a good dynamic range.

    Dialogue is clear and apart from a few unusual words (mainly brand names I think) is audible and intelligible.

    The music score is by Elmer Bernstein and fits the film well, though it is not as memorable as some of his western scores (The Magnificent Seven immediately springs to mind).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    No extras are provided, not even a trailer. This film deserves Special Edition treatment with a commentary and/or making of feature, and with Newman, Neal and Bernstein still living useful extras could have been devised.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 DVD has the same specifications as the Region 4 and therefore there is no reason to prefer it above the Region 4.

Summary

    A superb modern western presented as a bare bones release, but still worth owning.

    The video quality is good, but could have been a lot better.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, July 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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