Friday, January 12, 2018
A Vintage Vantage: Brandon De Wilde
I had never heard of actor Brandon De Wilde (sometimes spelled deWilde) until late last year while watching a airing of the 1963 Paul Newman film Hud. As some of you might remember, I used to have an issue with films made before I was born, especially black and white films. I am not sure why, but most of my life, I avoided them like the plague. Thankfully, with some great suggestions some blog readers and friends, I have fully embraced classic films, and now usually prefer them over most of the movies currently being made.
After Elizabeth Taylor died, I watched many of her films, including one of my favorites, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof with Newman. (A Ton of Bricks) This led me to a couple of other of Newman's Southern themed movies, Sweet Bird of Youth and The Long Hot Summer. I decided to branch out last year, enjoying Newman's turn in Cool Hand Luke, which I posted about HERE: This had me looking forward to check out his role in Hud.
With Patty Duke presenting at The Academy Awards, 1964
I can't say I nessessarily enjoyed Hud as much as the other Newman films I watched, but the performances were all top notch, especially Newman, Melvyn Douglas (who won Best Supporting Actor ) and especially Patrica Neal who won a Best Actress Oscar for her role. Actor Brandon deWilde was also a stand out in the role of Hud's nephew Lonnie. A child actor on Broadway at the age of seven, De Wilde was also nominated for an Oscar for his role in the 1953 western Shane.
De Wilde with wife Janice in 1972
For those of you who have seen Hud, there is a rather hot scene of the young Lonnie, naked in bed (nothing shown) with Patricia Neal's character Alma, the family's housekeeper, teasing him about pulling off his sheets to get him out of bed. Alma is such an interesting character and although not a part of the family, is central to the films drama. Some of the scenes between Alma and Hud would most likely not go over as well for today's audiences, but the film had many riveting scenes, all in the hands of a group of such talented actors.
De Wilde went out to work steadily in film and on television throughout the sixties and early seventies. Sadly, De Wilde died at the age of 30 in 1972. While in Denver Colorado for a stage production of Butterflies Are Free, De Wilde was killed in a traffic accident while driving a camper van that went off the road and crashed into a guardrail then a parked truck. The camper rolled onto its side, pinning the young actor and leading to a broken back and neck. Although I am not a huge fan of westerns, De Wilde's performance of Hud is going to have me keeping my eye out for airing of Shane and other of the actors work.