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Hondo

 (2,639)
7.01 h 24 min1953X-RayPG
An army scout must defend a widow and her son on their isolated homestead when the Apache Nation goes to war when their treaty is broken by the US Government.
Directors
Farrow,John
Starring
John WayneGeraldine PageWard Bond
Genres
DramaWesternRomanceMilitary and War
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
James Arness
Producers
Robert Fellows
Studio
Westerns
Rating
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
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Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

2639 global ratings

  1. 85% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 3% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

joel wingReviewed in the United States on August 26, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
John Wayne's best movie?
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This is probably my favorite John Wayne movie. That’s because it starts off so much unlike a typical Wayne film as he comes across Geraldine Page who is living with her son in a settlement threatened by Apaches and wins her over. It’s also not a traditional Western because Page forms a friendship with the Apaches. That’s the start of portraying the Native Peoples as humans a true rarity for the period. Yeah it does end with Wayne saying the Apache way of life would eventually be snuffed out by the American military but it still showed them as real people for most of it.
outforawalkReviewed in the United States on September 16, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Duke
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Great movie! And the blueray makes it better.
C. C. BlackReviewed in the United States on May 26, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
To Tell The Truth, To Keep One's Word
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After a time—in my case, sixty-plus years—of watching them, most westerns blur together. "Hondo" stands out.

That's nearly a pun, because Warner Bros. shot the film in 3-D. This proved to be a royal pain in the gluteus for the company, with New Mexico's sandstorms gumming up not one but two cameras and throwing production way over schedule. To top it off, all that money was wasted, since most of the film's release in 1953 was in regular presentation.

But back to the show: John Farrow and an uncredited John Ford (who, as a favor to the star, directed the movie's climax) do a fine job of staging the action, which is well edited. The actors, including old-standbys (Ward Bond, Paul Fix), newcomers (Geraldine Page, Michael Pate), and a very young James Arness, turn in convincing performances. Cinematography, chiefly by old pro Robert Burks, is exceptional: really to appreciate this movie it should be seen on the widest screen available. One warning: in high-definition, even with the camera pulled back, it's very easy to tell that a stand-in for the star is doing the real brawling and bronco-busting.

For me, the movie just misses five-star status. In part that's because screenwriter James Edward Grant overloaded Louis L'Amour's story, "The Gift of Cochise," with too many subplots lacking satisfying resolutions. The plots of most classic westerns have a straight through-line; I can't find one in "Hondo," which is more a series of episodes stitched together. Another problem is the movie's almost complete lack of humor. The best westerns—"Red River," "The Searchers," "Rio Bravo," "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"—leaven the drama with some breathing space to get to know the characters' quirks. And the throwaway line at the film's end—that the Apache way of life was a good one, soon to be exterminated—is painful to hear seventy years later.

Still, this movie has a lot going for it. Unlike most cavalry-versus-natives epics, there's complexity in this one. The white men are a mix of good and bad, and so are the natives. From the start it's made clear that the Apaches have no word for "lie," and the U.S. government has repeatedly broken the treaties. Hondo is himself part-Indian and spends portions of the movie explaining to each side the other's point of view. A six-year old white settler faces down an Apache sub-chief, whose superior makes of the child his blood-brother. In 1952 the western is maturing.

Of course, this is a John Wayne movie, and it rides on his broad shoulders, which are more than a little bruised. In this film the hero's wrist is tortured by scalding and he's stabbed in the chest, northeast of the heart. Beyond being tough as rawhide, the character of Hondo has considerable complexity, and Wayne is more than equal to it. He always claimed, as did other stars of that era (Spencer Tracy, James Stewart) that he wasn't an actor but a re-actor: the key to honest performance was listening to and watching what others were saying and doing, then responding with honesty, sometimes with the eyes only. "Hondo" is a fine example of Wayne's re-acting. He never shows off. He plays it straight and calm. When aggressive, there's good reason for his agitation.

A near-classic western, "Hondo" remains well worth 84 minutes of your time. Why the producers thought a movie so short needed an Intermission mystifies me. Maybe they thought people would need a break from all those paper-and-plastic 3-D eyewear that nobody ended up wearing.
7 people found this helpful
Retired In BajaReviewed in the United States on July 18, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
By far, one of his most enjoyable movies!
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HONDO is true family entertainment. John Wayne at his most charming and very best. Yes, perhaps a bit politically incorrect by todays standards, but has many socially redeeming “teaching moments”. Be sure and watch all the extras.
Benjamin J BurgraffReviewed in the United States on October 28, 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars
Loner Wayne, Great Cast, in Rewarding Western...
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At first glance, John Wayne's 1953 western, "Hondo", bears a remarkable similarity to another 1953 release, George Stevens' classic, "Shane". Both films open with an iconic stranger appearing out of the wilderness, spotted first by a young, impressionable boy. Both title characters arrive at homesteads in need of an 'extra pair of hands', and form unspoken bonds with the women of the households. Both Hondo and Shane have survival skills the families desperately need, even as the families fill a void in their own lives. But while Stevens' film
moves at a slow, deliberate pace, meticulously creating a near-mythic vision, "Hondo" director John Farrow, working from a script by longtime Wayne scribe James Edward Grant (from Louis L'Amour story), cuts the exposition down to basics, giving the film a much leaner 'look', with a climax (actually directed by John Ford, as Farrow had scheduling problems with another film) that is so fast-paced that it can leave a viewer in 'midair', expecting more. As a result, "Hondo" isn't held in as high esteem as "Shane", but is certainly a rewarding, entertaining experience, with one of Wayne's best pre-"Searchers" performances, and Geraldine Page earning an Oscar nomination in her film debut.

Filmed in the broiling summer heat of Mexico, utilizing massive,
cumbersome dual cameras to create 3-D (which both Wayne and Warner studio head Jack Warner felt was the wave of the future, but would be passé by the film's release), the production was grueling, yet formed lasting friendships. Australian Michael Pate, playing the key role of historic Chiricahua Apache Chief, Vittorio, was stunned to find Wayne, during a dangerous riding sequence, running along, off-camera, to protect him if he fell (Wayne, impressed by the actor, would cast him, ten years later, as another Indian chief in "McLintock!"). Several of Wayne's 'Stock Company' (Ward Bond, Paul Fix, James Arness, and Chuck Roberson) have roles (Bond's bearded, crusty 'Buffalo Baker' is a standout). John Ford, between films, vacationed in Mexico to visit Wayne and Bond, and was recruited (unbilled), to help direct.

The only discordant note on the set was stage actress Page. Wayne had hoped to get Katharine Hepburn for the role of Angie Lowe, but the liberal actress wasn't comfortable working with the politically conservative Wayne at that time (during the "Witch Hunt" for suspected Communists in the film industry), and passed on the project (as would her long-time love, Spencer Tracy, in "The High and the Mighty", Wayne's next production).
It would be 22 years before Hepburn and Wayne would finally team up together (in "Rooster Cogburn"). Geraldine Page, picked by Farrow for her fresh, 'natural' look, carried her stage training and 'attitude' into the filming, which did little to endear her to the cast, and Wayne felt little chemistry between them (although her performance would be the most honored, by the film industry).

With colorful characterizations, a chaste romance, plenty of action, and little of the obvious '3-D' gimmicks (only noticeable in the titles sequence, and two Indian fight scenes), "Hondo" was a HUGE hit when released, and has endured as one of John Wayne's most popular westerns.

Best of the Special Edition DVD 'extras' is a wonderful "Making of" documentary, with comments by Pate and the film's juvenile lead, Lee Aaker; brief bios of writer Grant, and Ward Bond; and a revealing, VERY balanced Apache overview of both the film and the REAL Chiricahua Chief Vittorio.

With nearly pristine image and sound quality, the "Special Edition" certainly lives up to expectations!
4 people found this helpful
TommyReviewed in the United States on July 11, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Received in excellent condition.
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Received on Sunday; that's rare. Watched movie with no issues. Thank you.
One person found this helpful
Isabelle A.Reviewed in the United States on January 18, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
My favorite western
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Hondo Lane is a strange, reserved and independent man. He stumbles upon a homesteader woman and her son, who happened to be abandoned by the man of the household. Lucky for them, Hondo comes at the right time, saving their scalps from the Apaches who soon arrived. Hondo is a half-breed scout riding dispatch for the U.S. Army.
This is symbolic in and of itself, as it implies that he has a dual responsibility for maintaining good relations with both parties (and with the Apaches, that is, up until it was time for the inevitable attack at the end of the film). He becomes a part of Angie's (Geraldine Page) life at the right time, as she perceived her husband (Leo Gordon) as cowardly and unfit as a father. Johnny (Lee Aaker) is quite fond of Hondo and sees him as a father figure. One of the central themes of his film is that of the nuclear family, with even the Apache Chief Vittorio (Michael Pate) talking about the importance of a father in a boy's life.

Although it's not the most exciting western, I have a soft spot for John Wayne's character and a liking for the story. Considering Hondo's status as a widower, he had a void that was troubling him for a while. He's rough around the edges (has a bad temper at times, is a loner for the most part) but still seeks companionship (keeps a trusty dog at his side, finds a family to call home). Although not as pronounced or celebrated as his other characters (namely Ethan Edwards or Rooster Cogburn) I still believe that Hondo is inseparable from JWs on-screen identity. Familiar faces who starred in other JW films (Ward Bond, James Arness, Paul Fix) all make an appearance. Overall this is a very solid western and happens to be one of my favorites. The plot is *slightly* similar to Shane (1953) but is still unique and distinguishable.
3 people found this helpful
Harry BrewerReviewed in the United States on July 14, 2008
4.0 out of 5 stars
Hondo (Full Screen)
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For 1953 Hondo was a brutal portrayal of the West. Hondo was based on a Louis L'Amour novel, in fact, it was the first novel that L'Amour had published & was also his first property to be transformed to the silver screen. The film was directed by John Farrow (father of Mia) & shot in Mexico. The screenplay was written by James Edward Grant, Wayne's favorite screenwriter.

Hondo is a Western much in the classic vein but with an added realism that was unusual for 1953. In the opening scene we see Hondo (John Wayne) walking toward the camera, rifle in one hand, scabbard & saddlebags in the other hand. Near him is the dog, Sam, basically a wild dog who is in the company of Hondo. He happens on a ranch that has only Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page) & her son Johnny (Lee Aker). Hondo is a scout for the cavalry & is returning to to report on the state of the Apaches who are preparing for war. Hondo stays around the ranch for a short period fixing up things for her. It's obvious to Hondo that Mrs. Lowe's husband hasn't been around for a long time. She continually lies about her husband but Hondo, straigt forward & honest, tells her she's lying. Later, Hondo meets Ed Lowe (Leo Gordon) & they take an immediate disliking to one another. Later Hondo kills Lowe in self-defense. This complicates things because Hondo & Mrs. Lowe end up falling in love.

All of this is set against the backdrop of an Apache uprising & the Lowe ranch is in the middle of it. She has been on peaceful terms with them but Hondo warns her it's time for her & her son to leave. She chooses to stay. The Apache chief Vittorio (Michael Pate) is a significant role in the movie. He befriends Johnny renaming him Small Warrior. Vittorio wants Mrs. Lowe to pick one of the Apache warriors for a husband so that Johnny can be taught the Apache way. The movie features Ward Bond as Buffalo Baker, a scout like Hondo. James Arness has a small role as Lennie, another scout whom Hondo doesn't like. It all leads to the inevitable cowboy & Indian showdown.

Some of this was shot in 3D but it's a very minuscule part. The movie has an introduction by Leonard Maltin who also appears in the rest of the special features. There's a feature entitled The Making of Hondo that features interviews with Michael Pate, Lee Aaker & western historian Frank Thompson. This feature reveals that the final parts filmed of Hondo were actually directed by John Ford. There's a feature on the writer James Edward Grant. There is an interview with Michael Wayne that reveals material from the vaults of Batjac, Wayne's production company. There are a couple of other features that makes this a great value.
2 people found this helpful
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