A blistering adult western which broke ground in its depiction of an unglamorous West and in the decidedly anti-heroic nature of its lead.
The charismatic Newman is the title character, an immoral Texas heel--insensitive, crude, avaricious, and irresponsible. He has a stormy relationship with his father, Douglas, an extremely decent but rigid old man who long ago rejected his son. Somewhere in between them is the innocent de Wilde,
whose attraction to Newman is almost as strong as that of salty housekeeper Neal. Newman does as little as possible around the ranch his father owns; ignoring the proud past, he is concerned only with having a good ol' time.
HUD belongs to a group of "anti-westerns" which includes LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, THE MISFITS, THE LUSTY MEN and JUNIOR BONNER. It's almost impossible to sympathize with Newman's character, presented cynically by director Ritt in an approach typical of many 60s filmmakers. Newman's performance,
though, is unquestionably the best thing about this brutal portrait of humanity.