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With: John Wayne, Geraldine Page, Ward Bond, Michael Pate, Lee Aaker, James Arness, Rodolfo Acosta
Written by: James Edward Grant, based on a story by Louis L'Amour
Directed by: John Farrow
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 83
Date: 11/25/1953

Hondo (1953)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mondo 'Hondo'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Aside from the films of Howard Hawks and John Ford, this is arguably John Wayne's best and most beloved Western. Based on a Louis L'Amour story and directed by John Farrow (but with some uncredited help by John Ford), Hondo gives Wayne a terrific role, stoic and bordering on cranky. A lanky dog scurries at his side at all times; Hondo refuses to feed him, insisting that the pooch hunt his own breakfast. Hondo stumbles upon a single woman (Geraldine Page) and her young son (Lee Aaker) homesteading in the middle of hostile Apache territory. Apparently, she's waiting for her no-good husband to return, so Hondo sticks around and uses his knowledge of the Apache to protect her -- at least until things turn really bad. Following the cues of both Ford and Hawks, Farrow turns in a crisp film with psychological hints stitched into the landscape. As always, Ward Bond co-stars, and James Arness appears in an early role as a scout. Page earned an Oscar nomination for her performance.

DVD Details: Hondo was originally shown in 3-D. It was broadcast on television in the early 90s with giveaway 3-D glasses, but has been unavailable on video for some time. Paramount's 2005 DVD is in 2-D only, but comes with lots of extras from the Batjack vaults. Critic Leonard Maltin, Western historian Frank Thompson and Lee Aaker provide a commentary track. There are several featurettes, a photo gallery and trailers.

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