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Genre: Western, Classic
Country: United States
Starring: John Wayne, Geraldine Page, Ward Bond, Michael Pate, James Arness
Director: John Farrow
Run time: 83 minutes
Special Features: Commentary from Leonard Maltin & others, The John Wayne Stock Company: Ward Bond, Profile: James Edward Grant (screenwriter), The Making of Hondo, From the Batjac Vaults
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
The John Wayne classic Hondo comes to Blu-Ray June 5th from Paramount Home Entertainment. I’m a giant John Wayne fan, but this is one of those movies that I never quite got around to seeing. And for that, I felt properly chastised by Leonard Maltin when he came on the screen before the movie to tell me that it was good and I ought to have seen it before now.
And he was right! Leonard Maltin, you’re so smart! I should have listened to you before, because I really liked Hondo, despite the vaguely racist treatment of the Apache and the strange camera work. Then again, Maltin explains that weird camera stuff before the movie begins. See, the new trend of making every movie in 3D is not a new trend at all. See, they did the same thing in the 1950s, and Hondo was made right in the middle of the very first 3-D craze.
But the Blu-Ray is not in 3-D. Which is probably a good thing. The high definition is wonderful for the vistas and the open plains and all those other things that made John Wayne movies fantastic. And I think it would have lost something had I been forced to put on those cheesy crappy cardboard glasses.
So I just had to giggle at the hilariously dated three dimensional title and intermission sequences, and the occasional scene where someone points a gun directly into the camera. The rest of the time, I just sat back and enjoyed the always enjoyable John Wayne in one of his good, solid westerns. Hondo is not a classic on the level of The Searchers or Red River or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It’s more a generic Wayne western along the lines of McClintock! or Angel And The Badman. But it’s a movie every John Wayne should watch, and one I regret took me so long to get to.
It IS notable, and classic, for a few reasons – the main one being the film debut of Geraldine Page, one of the great actresses of the century. Page was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Hondo, and then nominated for six more Oscars in her career, before finally winning one for The Trip To Bountiful in 1985.