Sunday, March 14, 2010


I’ve always wondered why David Canary got special billing in Everything Else You Can Steal and this movie, in which he has a small role, does not answer that question. He plays a stagecoach robber and his character doesn’t appear until about 45-50 minutes into Hombre. He’s only on-screen for a short while and I would not have recognized him had I not known the name of his character in advance as he looks very different from both the sheriff in Everything and from the doctor in The Strange Fate of Conrad Meyer Zulick.

Hombre is really about John Russell, played by Paul Newman. It was strange to see Newman in the role of a half-white, half-Indian White Mountain Apache, especially when his hair was long in the beginning of the film. The plot revolves around what happens after the stagecoach he and a number of other passengers are on gets held up. They are left without water or horses and have to survive on their own in the mountains and desert. Russell, as a man who grew up on the San Carlos reservation, takes charge. Ultimately, everyone, including the robbers, ends up at a deserted mining camp.

The scenery was beautiful. There was little background music, which added to the sense of being outdoors. People were realistically dirty from trekking for miles on end. However, when one of the robbers is shot in the stomach, he is still able to clamber up and down the hillside and talks and laughs as if nothing had happened. There’s a very strong female character, Jessie, played by Diane Cilento, in Hombre, whom I liked very much; she reminded me somewhat of Beegee (JoAnne Pflug in Only Three to a Bed). The ending of this 1967 movie was a surprise.

Some parts reminded me of a couple ASJ episodes. Early in Hombre, a group of people is sitting in the waiting room at the stage depot and an unsavory-looking man comes in and wants to buy a ticket. However, there are no tickets so he offers to buy one from another passenger. That man refuses and then is called out by the one who wants a ticket: shades of Wrong Train to Brimstone as well as Stagecoach Seven.

Also, a major character in Hombre is Dr. Alex Favor, played by Fredric March, who is an Indian agent; he initially seems somewhat sympathetic to the Apaches he oversees on the reservation but his wife is disdainful and, mimicking Mrs. Fielding in Six Strangers at Apache Springs, uses her handkerchief to wipe the sweat from her brow.

One of the lines that stands out for me, uttered by Jessie, is, “I’ve been wedded and bedded and loved and let down.” At just under two hours, Hombre did not let me down.

Website of the White Mountain Apache Tribe: