Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Hombre," the movie

Yes, it's American, it's a Western, and it's a movie, but I have two excuses for writing about the 1967 Paul Newman film: One, I watched it last night, and two, Declan Burke's novel The Big O opens with an epigraph from Elmore Leonard, and Leonard, of course, went on to spectacular success as a crime writer after writing Westerns, including the novel Hombre.

Thus, the movie spurs some observations about crime fiction. It has been often remarked that the American private-investigator story, with its lone-wolf hero trying to rough out his own form of justice in a harsh world, has its roots in the Western. Hombre, at least in its film version, has an especially noirish overtone. On the one hand, the hero makes one gesture that sounds a false note, ably analyzed here. On the other, he winds up dead.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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4 Comments:

Blogger Dave Knadler said...

Not to wander too far afield here, but Elmore Leonard's westerns stand as the best of the genre. They're the first of his work I ever read, many years ago. You're right, it's all pretty noirish, and the better for it. You might check out "Forty Lashes Less One."

July 01, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for the note, and nice to hear from you again. I hope all goes well.

Thanks also for the recommendation. I found my way to Elmore Leonard's westerns through an introduction to one of his crime stories in the Hard Boiled anthology. Hombre was just one of his westerns mentioned there. If the movie version is an accurate indication, they could prove interesting to any reader for crime fiction. That the hero of Hombre dies ought to make any crime-fiction fan think. I'll add "Forty Lashes Less One" to the list of recommended titles.

July 01, 2007  
Blogger The author said...

It appears that all of his westerns (not that there were a lot of them) are being reissued. Regardless of what you think of the book, you have to admit it's a pretty good title.

I've started a blog (apparently the last man in the nation to do so) devoted to crime writing. As soon as I see if I can sustain it for awhile, I'll send you the link. (Of course, meanwhile I am linking to your site...)

July 02, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

It seems to me I read about that collection of Leonard's westerns, or else I saw it somewhere. In any case, Hombre and this ensuing discussion have me interested. I'll put the book on my list.

July 02, 2007  

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