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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Welcome To Hard Times (1967)

A barbaric brute of a man (Aldo Ray) comes to a small ramshackle town and proceeds to rape, pillage, murder and set fire to the town and killing the two men who dare stand up to him. The "mayor" of the town (Henry Fonda), who refused to stand up to him and ran, attempts to build the town up again. But even he knows it's a matter of time before the evil beast returns. Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow (RAGTIME), this is a transitional western. Perhaps influenced by the spaghetti western, it contains some of the most violent images seen in an American western up to that time and it wouldn't be long before Sam Peckinpah opened up the floodgates with THE WILD BUNCH. It's a downbeat western with no one to root for for as repugnant as Ray's mindless killing machine is, Fonda's weak ostrich with his head in the sand is just as repugnant in his own way. When it's over, there are no winners. A near nihilistic western without any catharsis. Directed by Burt Kennedy (SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF) who also did the screenplay. With Janice Rule as the rape victim bent on vengeance, Keenan Wynn, Janis Paige, Warren Oates, Fay Spain, Lon Chaney Jr., John Anderson, Royal Dano, Paul Fix, Elisha Cook and Arlene Golonka.

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