I think I’ll start discussing classic films on occasion. I don’t know entirely why I never have on this blog before. I’ve loved classic films and been watching them since childhood.
And this brings me to “Hud” from 1963 with Patricia Neal, Paul Newman, Brandon deWilde, and Melvyn Douglas.
Paul Newman is one of my absolute favorite actors. He’s brilliant. Truly a genius. And he’s also deep.
As a straight woman I’ve had many crushes on many men during my life. But, more often than not, I’ve been captured by their handsome exterior and the sparkle of their soul inside only to discover later that underneath all of that there is the a big unknown; they don’t truly know who they are beyond the obvious and the surface. They exist behind it all of course, but not even they know exactly who is there.
I haven’t ever been attracted to any other gender other than men but I do know from friendships with other gendered people that a lot of humans are like that in general. And if people open up enough you can sometimes discuss that big unknown with them in a positive way. In friendships discussing the unknown within can be very interesting and fun actually. People are fascinating.
But…the romantic relationships that I’ve enjoyed the most have been the ones where I was with someone who knew themselves deeply. Those have been very rare, of course.
He woos you and gives you the impression that there’s a million plans and hopes in his mind and heart based on his profound inner understanding and when after knowing him long enough you discover that he isn’t false but indeed passionately engaged with life from a place deep inside himself, it’s genuinely awe-inspiring. His charisma isn’t a façade.
Paul Newman was that sort of person, I think. And it was reflected in his theatrical performances. He had a boyish charm and when you saw him with Joanne there was a youthful gleam in his eye that never died over the years but in that buoyancy there wasn’t an emptiness or lack of self. I’m not saying that he was a marvelous person or that he wasn’t. I’ve read varying accounts of his life. Still, I get the sense that either way he knew himself. And with that understanding I think he brought amazing nuance and contradictions out in his characters.
Hud. Hud, as played by Paul Newman, is a study in complexity and contradictions.
To cut to the chase: He basically tries to rape someone, although I don’t think Hud would entirely see it as attempted rape (and he apologizes for it to some degree later). And also, Hud is sometimes irresponsible, immoral and disrespectful.
And yet… And yet.
When Hud’s father dies and says incredibly bitter and hateful words towards Hud (as he has in the past) Hud doesn’t seem surprised so much as heartbroken and resigned. Hud has a heart that can break.
Hud knows at that point that his father sees him as a terrible person and his light and heart exist in defiance of rejection the entire film. And while Hud’s face betrays a self-awareness that he’s not as good of a man as his little brother he also gives the impression that there’s a genuine goodness and strength within him that almost no one sees or respects. A stalwart, manly courage. A lonely, angry, hurt man who feels trapped and afraid. A man who is aware of his own mortality. A man who is deep.
Hud is a troubled man for certain but not a fool. He may not believe in his own life but he knows he exists and perhaps knows there’s a God out there too. …It’s not a mistake that the entire film was named after him.