In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the US, a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries and scouts.
Cat(herine) Ballou's family farm is being threatened by the Rail Road. She sends for Kid Shelleen, finding him to be the drunkest gunfighter in the west. When her father is killed by the rail road magnate's gunman, she vowes to fight on. Shelleen manages to ride sideways in several scenes, while minstrels sing the ballad of Cat Ballou in between scenes. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Nat 'King' Cole had a nightly singing engagement at a Lake Tahoe nightclub. He would commute daily between Lake Tahoe and the set in order to do both. Everyone noticed that Cole was coughing a great deal whenever he was on the set and losing weight, but most figured he was just running himself down with such a gruelling schedule. Unbeknownst to them and to Cole himself, he was already very sick with lung cancer. See more »
At the beginning of the train robbery sequence, a then-modern signal box is visible beside the tracks. See more »
The traditional Columbia logo turns into a cartoon figure who strips her gown off, and becomes a caricature of Jane Fonda in a cowboy outfit. She then fires her guns into the air, the ground, and across her body multiple times! See more »
The only reason Fonda got top billing is because it was called "Cat Ballou"
Let's face facts -- Fonda was OK in this movie, but Lee Marvin was in his glory as over-the-hill gunslinger Kid Shelleen. Add to that his second role as as the noseless Tim Strawn. Toss in the matter-of-fact way the Kid reveals that he and Tim had been brothers.
And leave us not forget my favorite scene -- the "suiting up" of the Kid prior to the ultimate showdown. It's almost like the investiture of an ancient high priest, down to the acolyte-like functioning of Jackson Two-Bears (played to perfection by Tom Nardini). Absolutely no dialogue, and set, as I recall, to music reminiscent of the Spanish corridas.
If anyone draws up a list of Lee Marvin's best films, they'd have to be nuts to not put this in the top three. His "Best Actor" Oscar for this film was well-deserved.
And equally high marks to whomever did the stunt work for Marvin. The antics on horseback during the last scenes, with a "drunken" Kid Shelleen in the saddle, have to be seen to be believed.
By all means, see this movie. Be ready to cheer for the "bad guys" as they seek revenge against the "badder guys". But do NOT, under any circumstances, think for a minute that the movie as shown on TNT is complete. The last time they aired it, they actually CUT part of the above-mentioned dressing scene -- an unforgivable sin of omission, in my book. Rent (or buy) the video or DVD instead.
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