Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Ah, yes, we know the characters well from a thousand other Westerns. It's fun to check them off: The good but indecisive Mexican, the decisive but bad Mexican, the thieving Indian agent, his cultured wife, the desperado, the lady boarding house operator with a heart of gold, and the Kid. Every Western has a Kid, who is always called the Kid, although in "Hombre" someone finally gets around to asking his last name.
By now we know the role Paul Newman will play, too, since he's Hombre and that means he's in the tradition of Hud, the Hustler and Harper. He'll be taciturn and alienated and tough, but victimized by a lot of wishy-washy liberals.
Just because the ingredients are familiar, however, doesn't mean "Hombre" isn't an absorbing, suspenseful film. Indeed, Hollywood seems at its best when it returns to its traditions, and nothing is more Hollywood than the big, socially significant Western. All directors do one to prove they haven't sold out.
Last year, Richard Brooks' "The Professionals" was the best-directed film out of Hollywood, and this year it looks as if the honors may rest with Martin Ritt and "Hombre."