Hondo is an exciting offbeat western. The stereoscopic 3-D cameras and WarnerColor successfully capture the vast natural beauty of Camargo, Mexico, where the picture was filmed on location.
Hondo, like Shane, gives the western an aura of maturity. It depicts a conflict of interests rather than an individual battle of good versus evil. Vittorio, the Apache chief, is shown as a just leader, concerned about the problems of his people and bewildered by the white man’s violations of treaties.
While the skirmishes and armed battles with the Indians are excitingly presented, the screenplay of Louis L’Amour’s Collier’s magazine story deals considerably with the relationship of individuals. John Wayne, as a civilian scout for the US Cavalry, arrives at the isolated ranch in Indian territory of Geraldine Page and her young son. Practically abandoned by her ne’er-do-well husband, she is forced to do the ranch chores by herself, a task with which Wayne assists.
Wayne accidentally comes across Page’s husband and kills him in self-defense. While the romantic attachment between Wayne and Page grows, a conflict arises over the death of her husband.
Wayne scores as the silent-yet-outspoken Indian scout. Page, no glamor girl, gives a sensitive portrayal as the ranch wife.
1953: Nominations: Best Supp. Actress (Geraldine Page), Motion Picture Story (writer not eligible)