Tuesday, 5 August 2008

No. 3 : Welcome To Hard Times

IMDb Link : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062482/

Despite a stellar cast that includes Henry Fonda, Warren Oates and Lon Chaney Jnr. this 1967 western seems relatively unknown, garnering a meagre 404 votes on the IMDb. I caught it buried on TCM and have to say that, despite some shortcomings, I found it somewhat enjoyable.

Henry Fonda plays the mayor of a one horse frontier town which is ransacked by a single outlaw replete in black hat and stubble. All the men of the town suffer brown trousers and stand by as the town is burned and hooker raped. Showing some contradictory cajones Fonda sticks around with plans to rebuild the titular town. His luck is in when it’s quickly repopulated by a gaggle of prostitutes and various other settlers. As time passes the town starts to flourish, but everyone is aware that Black Hat may return at any moment.

Virtually every western cliché is trotted out as bar room fights spill out into the path of a grizzled prospectors pulling mules. I especially enjoyed the opening scene of carnage, as outrage after outrage is perpetrated on the townsfolk, with a horse being dispatched with utmost prejudice. The scene was reminiscent of Mongo’s rampage in ‘Blazing Saddles’ and was just as funny.

There is however a lot to like and Fonda does well with his poorly written and contradictory character. The final denouement is another cause for mirth as the young lad, who was warned off his shot gun earlier on, makes his dramatic entrance...

Worth tracking down for an entertaining 100 minutes, with more laughs than a whole series of ‘My Family’.

Best Bit : “He’s set fire to the saloon - again!”

‘W’ Score 14/23

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