John Russell (Paul Newman), a white man raised by an Arizona Apache tribe, is forced to confront the society he despises when he sells the boarding house he inherits. While leaving town by stagecoach, several bigoted passengers insist he ride with the driver (Martin Balsam). But when outlaws leave them all stranded in the desert, Russell may be their only hope for survival! Diane Cilento, Frederic March, Richard Boone and Barbara Rush co-star in this action-packed Western classic.
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This 1967 western not only boasts a superb cast (including Paul Newman, Frederic March, Martin Balsam and Richard Boone) and a taut script (based on an Elmore Leonard novel) but also James Wong Howe as Director of Photography and Martin Ritt as Director. Indeed, ‘Hombre’ was the fifth and last collaboration between Ritt and Newman. The film somewhat resembles Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’ insofar as a motley assemblage of passengers find themselves travelling in haste through spectacular landscapes. As in ‘Stagecoach’ those who appear most respectable and are most censorious are actually the most corrupt but in ‘Hombre’ Newman’s character is not rejected because he is an outlaw but is outcast because he was kidnapped and raised by the Apaches, and feels more Indian than white. Newman’s John Russell could give Eastwood lessons in taciturnity but as the plot unfolds his trenchant analysis of the situation and decisiveness in action make his character increasingly appealing. In the final analysis, ‘Hombre’ isn’t as great a film as ‘Stagecoach’, although it’s still very good indeed and superior with respect to its more enlightened attitude towards Native Americans.
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