Hud Bannon is the black sheep of the family, and with good reason. His irresponsible outlook on life is more than just rebellion, frequently making his family's (in particular his upstanding father's) life a misery. When foot and mouth threatens the Bannon's livestock, tensions are strained to breaking point.
Martin Ritt's often overlooked gritty modern Western features a barnstormer of a performance from Paul Newman as Hud Bannon, the thoroughly irresponsible young cowpoke whose selfishness and idiocy contribute to the implosion of his family when the herd is stricken by foot and mouth disease. The real star though, is James Wong Howe's deliciously crisp black-and-white cinematography, which emphasises the unglamorous toughness of the Wild West.
One can't say that Hud goes unnoticed and unrewarded, but it never really seems to sit as high up on all those classic films lists as it seems to deserve, which is still something of a shame - especially right after you've seen it. Full credit to Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr for never missing a beat in their adaptation of LarryMcMurty's novel, and to whichever studio execs passed the film's heartbreaker of an ending.
Oater aficionados will also be delighted to notice Brandon De Wilde - the kid from Shane - playing, er, a slightly more grown-up kid.
Newman is at his very best, and the cinematography is backing him up every step of the way. Must-see material.