Sam and George strike gold in Alaska. George sends Sam to Seattle to bring George's fiancée back to Alaska. Sam finds she is already married, and returns instead with Angel. Sam, after ... See full summary »
A wagon train heads for Denver with a cargo of whisky for the miners. Chaos ensues as the Temperance League, the US cavalry, the miners and the local Indians all try to take control of the ... See full summary »
A drifter comes to town where his brother is sheriff. His brother is actually a robber who broke the real sheriff's leg and left him for dead, and became sheriff in order to hide out. They ... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When filming the scene where Kid Shelleen takes a bath and dons his costume, director Elliot Silverstein had all actions timed to the beat of a metronome, its pace increasing when Shelleen takes his guns. He planned to have the scene scored with Spanish guitars following this beat, but the producer was adamantly opposed to anything Spanish in a Western. In the end, electric guitars were used. See more »
When the "runaway" beer wagon topples over, a cable can be seen running from the top of its "Brennan's Brewery" sign to the left foreground, pulling the wagon over. See more »
The opening Columbia logo is followed by the first verse of the "Cat Ballou" song, sung by Nat 'King' Cole and Stubby Kaye, complete with scenes of the town. We then see go to the opening credits. See more »
"The Queen Of The Outlaws, Her Name Is Cat Ballou"
Cat Ballou's significance in film history is not the quality of the film itself, though it's a pretty funny piece of work. It's because it vaulted Lee Marvin up from the ranks of featured players and made him a star with an hysterical Oscar winning performance.
It's also the only time in film history that anyone won an Oscar for a dual role. Marvin is featured as deadly contract killer, Jack Strawn and as his alcoholic brother Kid Shelleen.
The brothers get into a range feud and opposite sides. An eastern conglomerate headed by Reginald Denny is putting the squeeze on John Marley right at the same time as his daughter Jane Fonda in the title role is coming back from eastern finishing school.
Marley and Fonda have a hired killer strong arming them, so at the suggestion of a curious gang of friends she's developed, Michael Callan, Dwayne Hickman, and Tom Nardini, she goes and gets her own outlaw.
Of course the dueling Marvins do have it out and I think you can guess who won.
Sometimes it's easy to forget about some of the others in Cat Ballou because of Marvin's Oscar. Jane Fonda looks like she's having a great old time, satirizing certain themes that are sacred in Hollywood westerns. She plays her role as the budding Calamity Jane absolutely straight and lets the comedy fall around her.
One favorite I have from the film is Hollywood veteran Reginald Denny. In the old days he was usually a rival or best friend to various leading men in the Hollywood English colony. He looks like he's having one grand old time playing the rakish Harry Percival the chief villain of Cat Ballou.
The film is helped along with those singing narrations by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye. At one time Cole and Kaye are in a bordello and he's both singing and playing the honky tonk piano. Since Cole's velvet syrupy singing is what most remember him for, it's good to remember that in the beginning Cole was a jazz pianist and his original records were with the Nat King Cole Trio as a pianist. His singing was something added and then took over his career. Cole was one of the great and most unique voices of the last century, he left us way too soon.
Four years later John Wayne won his Oscar for the boozy Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. What I would have loved to have seen is Wayne and Marvin playing their Oscar winning characters in a dual venture. That would have been a movie to remember.
As is the funny and touching Cat Ballou.
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