Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Finally saw Hondo (1953), starring John Wayne, Geraldine Page and Michael Pate, directed by John Farrow. It's based on a Louis L'Amour story that L'Amour (1908-1988) reworked as a novel; there are both differences and similarities in all three versions. Setting, for one thing: Arizona vs. New Mexico. The time period is roughly the same, in the last decade or so of the American "Indian Wars." There's Vittorio, a warrior-chief, who seems loosely based on Victorio (Beduiat, circa 1825-1880), a Chiricahua Apache leader. Hondo Lane is half-Apache (Mescalero, if memory serves); Hondo means "deeply" in Spanish. 

The novel, made almost as if in dialogue with the creation of the movie, pays more meticulous attention to detail and is more gripping. There are more night scenes, and more time is spent examining the tactics of fighting between Apaches and US Cavalry and the details of terrain, climate and movement, all of which I find fascinating.

Hondo was married to an Apache woman, but she's died before the story begins, which is just as he and his dog Sam come upon a small ranch held together by Angie Lowe and her six-year old son, situated in an area frequented by Vittorio and his men. Conflicts abound, and in interesting ways. They are cultural, personal, ecological and historical. Watching and/or reading Hondo, one can see its impact on later works. 

My Dad has a large Louis L'Amour collection and he's got me hooked, starting with Hondo. I finished The Burning Hills (1956) not too long ago, also, and The Haunted Mesa (1987).

Today's Rune: Possessions.        

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

This was the first L'Amour book I read and I much enjoyed it, although later I found others I liked better. I saw the movie but didn't care as much for it.