Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Hombre Features Rugged Drama

Cleveland Press August 25, 1973

An assortment of characters -- an outlaw, an embezzler, a tough woman, a recently married bride and groom, a silent mysterious man and a few others -- are together in a stagecoach. Then there is an incident, trouble develops, characters are revealed.

Sound like a re-make of "Stagecoach?" Well, it is and it isn't. In spirit, character development and quality this new movie, "Hombre," is closer to the 1939 "Stagecoach" than the blood-and-guts remake of a year ago.

It is other things too. It is strong character drama, the story of an outcast, the clashing of two societies, and an action movie.

"Hombre" was produced. and directed by Martin Ritt and stars Paul Newman, the same team responsible for "Hud." This is not another "Hud," is in fact more purely entertainment than that earlier film. But some of the same rugged integrity comes through.

In "Hombre" Paul Newman is a white man captured by Indians as a boy, raised by them for a time, then by a white man from whom he ran away to re-join the Apaches.

HE IS TOUGH, laconic, a loner -- a heroic anti-hero as he goes his own way refusing to intervene in the troubles of others.

Among others on the trip are Diane Cilento as a widow with few scruples, Fredric March as an ex-Indian reservation agent with something on his mind, Barbara Rush as his anti-Indian wife, Martin Balsam as a Mexican stagecoach driver.

Stopped and turned loose on foot by outlaws, it is Newman who is the only man who knows what to do and who unwillingly assumes leadership by default. Holed up in an old mining shack while Barbara Rush is held captive by the outlaws the others turn to Newman for help

At this point the movie almost bogs down in conversation. Ritt and his writers through their characters have much to say about the refusal of people to help each other, to intervene in a crisis.

NEWMAN AS A MAN raised in a kill-or-be-killed environment is on the other side of the argument, and humanitarian reasons aside he makes a pretty good case. He doesn't convince himself however and the inevitable ending is a suspense-filled slam-bang conclusion.

Veteran photographer James Wong Howe has filmed a non-colorful Technicolor West filled with heat, dust and discomfort.

As a Western, "Hombre" offers enough excitement to stand up with the best of them. As a motion picture with sure-handed direction, a literate script and excellent acting it also offers something for all audiences, Western fans or not.