Hombre (1967)

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Released 22-Aug-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Theatrical Trailer-2:17
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 106:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (65:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Martin Ritt
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Paul Newman
Frederic March
Richard Boone
Diane Cilento
Cameron Mitchell
Barbara Rush
Peter Lazer
Margaret Blye
Martin Balsam
Case ?
RPI ? Music David Rose


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English 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 Croatian
Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Hombre is not one of Paul Newman's immortal films. It's not a dreadful film, but it lacks something. Perhaps it's because Paul Newman's character is so stoic we can't really empathise with him.

    Newman plays a man with several names. His "white man" name is John Russell, but he has an Apache name, and he gets called Hombre (Spanish for "man"), too. He was taken by Apaches as a child, and raised by them. Then he was "rescued" and adopted by a man called Russell, but he ran away, and returned to the Apaches.

    At the start of this film, a man called Mendez (Martin Balsam) sends a youth called Billy Lee (Peter Lazer) looking for John Russell, to tell him that old man Russell has died, leaving him a boarding house. Mendez tells him that he should drop his Apache ways, cut his hair, and come into town to live like a white man. It's during this scene that we get a demonstration of one of the central issues of this film - that white men consider Mexicans (like Mendez) inferior, but they think even less of Indians.

    Russell decides to come into town and look at the boarding house. It's run by Jessie Brown (Diane Cilento), who is put out when Russell chooses to sell the house. She tries to get her lover (the sheriff) to marry her, but he refuses. She takes the chance to leave town on the last stage there will be (the stage coach is closing down because the railroad is arriving). This stage coach is a special run, organised and paid for by a man called Favor (Frederic March) and his wife Audra (Barbara Rush), driven by Mendez (who is the local representative of the stage line). Billy Lee and his wife Doris (Margaret Blye) are on the stage as well. Russell is aboard, too. The last ticket is obtained by a nasty character called Cicero Grimes (Richard Boone) through bullying and intimidation.

    The coach trip is the core of this film. We get to watch the dynamics of this odd mix of people as they put up with one another during the lengthy trip. And we see how they react when confronted with danger and unpleasantness (there's more than a little unpleasantness).

    The story is interesting enough, and with a tiny change to the character of John Russell, it could have been very involving. The problem is that Russell's stoicism (no doubt an attempt to portray a learned behaviour from the Apache culture) makes him an unsympathetic character. His continual refusal to be involved is understandable, but it is hardly endearing. There's an attempt to deal with this in some dialogue, but it's only marginally effective. I think there's a much more effective portrayal of this kind of character in Mad Max 2 (a strange comparison for a Western, but appropriate, I think).

    Nonetheless, this is an interesting Western - one of the earlier attempts to deconstruct the mythology of the West, to show a place where not all men were real men, where not all fights went to the man with right on his side, and to show some of the brutality that happens when the law is a long way away.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is the original theatrical aspect ratio, and that's important to some of the scenery.

    The image is not too sharp, but it has decent shadow detail, and no low-level noise.

    The colours are not perfect, but they are rather good. Everything looks a bit faded, but that could easily be production design - this film is set in Western American desert, and colours fade rapidly under the bright sun. Even so, there are some deep rich colours, fortunately with no colour bleed.

    There are tiny film artefacts, but they're untroubling (unsurprising in a film made in 1966, too). The big hassle is aliasing and moire. Pretty much every scene had some aliasing (mostly mild) in it, and the moire on check shirts and jackets is frequent and a bit distracting. There's more than a little background MPEG shimmer, too.

    There are subtitles in thirteen languages - I only watched those in English (which were captions) - they are accurate enough, easy to read, and well-timed to the dialogue.

    The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 65:59. It is rather a good layer change, and not obvious.

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

Audio

    There is a big choice of soundtrack - you can have English or, um, nothing. As you might guess, I listened to the English soundtrack. It's Dolby Digital 2.0, and sounds mono - there's no great stereo spread.

    The dialogue is clear enough and almost always comprehensible. There are no audio sync errors.

    The score was composed by David Rose. It's orchestral, and well suited to this movie.

    This soundtrack makes no use of the surrounds or the subwoofer.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static and silent, but easy to operate.

Trailer (2:17)

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1. There's a lot of hiss in the soundtrack, and the colours are slightly off.

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 version of this was released in June 2002. It is a single-sided and single-layered disc, and by the tone of the reviews that I read, it sounds like it might be a bit more heavily compressed than this one. That's the only real difference between the two.

Summary

    Hombre is an interesting movie, presented on a reasonable DVD.

    The video quality is adequate.

    The audio quality is good enough.

    The extra is basic.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, August 20, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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