Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Overlooked Movies -- Hard Times

I've enjoyed quite a few movies with Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Strother Martin in them.  This is my favorite of all the Bronson movies I've seen, and Coburn and Martin were never better.  

It's the Great Depression, and Chaney (Bronson) drifts into New Orleans.  To get a bit of money he enters a bare-knuckle fighting contest, bets on himself, and wins.  Speed (Coburn), who's running the competition and who also needs money, hooks up with Chaney as his manager.  Martin, an opium addict, is the cut man.

You pretty much know where this is going, with a big bout coming at the end, but there are some twists along the way, and the plot doesn't really matter so much, or it didn't to me, although it's very satisfying.  It's the performances that make the movie, though, and that atmosphere.  You can almost believe the scenes were shot during the Depression if you overlook the window-unit air-conditioners covered with canvas in some of the buildings.

Jill Ireland is around to provide a bit of romance for Chaney, but in the end Chaney is true to himself and Coburn gets a great closing line.  I can't believe it's been 40 years since this movie came out.  Yikes. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

13 comments:

August West said...

I love the scene where the opposition takes off without paying Coburn. Bronson tells him to drive over there and kicks the crap out of everyone and comes out with the cash.

Ed Gorman said...

My favorite Bronson flick. Well written, well directed, well acted. And James Coburn was great, too.

Cullen Gallagher said...

This is also my favorite Bronson movie, and my top movies of all time. (I haven't ranked them, but this is way up there for me.) Excellent script, strong cast of actors, and the great Walter Hill directing.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Coburn and Bronson were in THE GREAT ESCAPE together too.

Jeff

Unknown said...

Not to mention THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. They made some great movies together.

Tom Johnson said...

I watch it every year or so. Great movie. Atmospheric really describes it nicely.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Those are definitely two of my all-time favorites, all right.

Jeff

Ben Boulden said...

This is also my favorite Bronson movie, and I really like many of his films. I hadn't seen it until a few years ago, and I was surprised how good it was. An excellent film.

August West said...

"Mr. Majestyk" is my favorite but "Hard Times" is in the top tier.

Unknown said...

I like that one a lot, too.

Bud said...

Haven't seen it, but will now. Met and talked with Strother Martin once. He seemed to be a nice man, of course, but no one could play a sleaze better 8-)

Unknown said...

I really liked his performance in this movie. And if you see the movie, I'll bet you like it.

RHovey, CA said...

Just watched it a few months ago after many years - still liked it! Other favorite Bronson's: 1st Death Wish (sequels dreadful), The Mechanic, AND the under-appreciated Alistair Maclean's Breakheart Pass.