Hombre (1967)

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Paul Newman plays a horse trader raised by the Apache who finds himself the protector of a group of travellers when they are ambushed by outlaws.

Obviously another variation on the Stagecoach theme, Hombre instead casts the “Indian” as the anti-hero and the white men as the villains. This switch-around forms the basis of the story as the main topic is that of racism; the steely-eyed Newman is initially shunned and vilified because of his native American heritage but finds himself emotionally blackmailed into becoming their saviour as soon as they need his help. Newman is extremely charismatic as the enigmatic frontiersman, the irony being that the actions the whites see as “savage” are in fact born of the cold logic of a lifetime struggling for survival. The white characters are shown as either hypocritical or naive and soon forget their moral outrage when they find their lives on the line. The plot may be a little predictable but it’s also a very interesting character study and social commentary with a superb central performance from Newman.

Well worth a look for those who like westerns with a brain.

7/10

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