Sunday, December 22, 2013

Welcome to Hard Times (1967)

Director: Burt Kennedy

Writers: Burt Kennedy, E.L. Doctorow

Composer: Harry Sukman

Starring: Henry Fonda, Janice Rule, Keenan Wynn, Janis Paige, John Anderson, Warren Oates, Fay Spain, Edgar Buchanan, Aldo Ray, Denver Pyle, Michael Shea, Arlene Golonka, Lon Chaney Jr., Elish Cook Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A town can be killed by a bullet...just like a man!

Plot: In the town of Hard Times, a stranger rides in and terrorizes the small settlement. He kills a number of townsfolk, including Fee, the town's founder. Mayor Will Blue fails to stand up to the man, who rapes saloon whore Molly and burns down the town. Blue promises to rebuild the town after the stranger rides on, but the townsfolk give up and leave. A wagon load of prostitutes led by "entrepreneur" Zar shows up and together with Blue, they rebuild the town. But Molly's desire for revenge and her anger at Blue for not protecting her eat at her, and Blue promises that things will be different when the stranger returns. And return he does.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

It's a story with plot points you see coming two and a half miles away.  The players do a fine job but the only thing I dug was the beginning and end when the bad guy, Man from Bodie (Aldo Ray), pulls into town and causes a lot of deadly mischief.  After he devastates the small town it's all about rebuilding.  That's where some of the uninteresting bits happen like waiting out a severe storm.  You know the few buildings there will remain standing so there's not much drama there.

What's this?  Lon Chaney Jr. drinking whiskey?  Say it ain't so!

It doesn't pick up until the end when the Man from Bodie shows up and repeats what he did at the outset.  His fate ends as you expect it to but not without some nice innocent casualties.  That part was unexpected and nice to see for a change.  I'm a sucker for Westerns so even without having such greats as Fonda, Wynn, Oates and Cook, I'm already there. 

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