Hard Times (1975) Poster


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Bronson remains an example of the consummate popular tough hero…
Nazi_Fighter_David5 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Some consider Hard Times' Chaney to be Bronson's most fitting role, while others have found him offering nothing he had not previously done on screen…

But, for the most part, Hill's "Hard Times" brought new attention to Bronson and brought him respect from unexpected quarters… It also brought back Jill Ireland, as his romantic interest, and witnessed, in Bronson, a decided physical alteration appropriate to the film's time and place… The actor's somewhat graying hair was cut quite short… And, of course, his well-toned and defined musculature was, at fifty-four, still carefully enough maintained to go on public display, for the role…

Weaving outstandingly well into the plot, James Coburn and Strother Martin proved their pleasant personalities in their good acting...
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Bronson's Best
salignac223 January 2006
Of all the movies I have seen Mr. Bronson in "Hard Times" stands out to me. He should have been given an Oscar for this time piece.

We currently have Spiderman,Batman and Superman etcetera, as the contemporary super heroes of our day. Charles Bronson as Chaney outdoes them all without ever leaving the ground. You feel when watching this movie that you are right there in New Orleans. Charles Bronson as Chaney is hard as nails and yet you feel as if he could be your best friend. If you needed bullies to be knocked down you would want Chaney on your side.

Many times I have heard the question "what is a real man?". Chaney is I think the perfect picture of what a real man is, or at least the way most good men would want to be. Chaney is fearless,shrewd,compassionate.I could go on and on. Oh he also like the ladies.

I have seen this movie more times than I can count and I know I will watch it again. Whenever I recommend a Bronson flick this is the one. The rest of the cast was chosen to perfection, I could mention each. Just see the film you will not regret it.
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The Original Fight Club? More In-Between
Bogmeister4 January 2006
With this, his first directing job, Walter Hill showed his tendency for archetypal characters (see the later "The Driver" - where the characters didn't even have proper names - and, of course, "The Warriors"). Here, Bronson is 'The Fighter'...Coburn is 'The Hustler'...Martin is 'The Addict-Medic'...and so forth. Bronson's final opponent is simply named 'Street' while the big guy who damages The Hustler's automobile with a big hammer is just called 'Hammerman.' They all present striking, impressive figures; you don't easily forget any of them. They stride or shuffle through a page of history, in this case Depression-era New Orleans, nicely atmospheric as shown here. Times are hard. People need to be hard, as well. One way to make good money is in pick up fights, street fights in warehouses, on docks or, in one case of rich atmosphere, in the bayou.

Chaney, aka The Fighter, as played by Bronson, true to director Hill's method of archetypes, first appears on a slow moving train from places unknown. We never learn anything of his past history, even though there's about 50 years worth there. We learn only of his incredible hitting ability in the current time frame of the story's progression. In a way, Bronson was born to play this role: he's certainly not a young man here but he looks so tough we have no trouble believing he can wipe out men 20 years his junior. With the archetype of The Fighter, the story plays out like some Depression times fable, the tale of a mystery man or warrior arrived in a city to astonish all the onlookers with his formidable fighting abilities. The fights themselves are quite memorable; the viewer has the good fortune to witness these with the shouting hordes of betting men from the safety of a couch at home. We're a part of the spectacle, a guilty participant in a brutal spectator sport, a much more gritty version of modern boxing, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

The rest of the cast is super: Coburn was never better as Speed 'The Hustler' and Chaney's front-man/manager. It's mostly through him that we hear all the phrases and quips common to those places & times, and Coburn delivers them all with a gusto & panache few are capable of. You really believe he was born as the 19th century was ending, grew up in the twenties and adjusted to the Depression accordingly. You'll always remember his retorts to the bayou residents and his last insult about fish to Gandil, the bigshot. Speed and Chaney need each other and their relationship is another strong point; Speed is all about the money, sure, but you sense he has a strong admiration for Bronson's power and quiet nobility (this is confirmed at the end). As Poe, Strother Martin created & added another indelible character to the long list on his resume. Other actors would've been saddled with some of the odd dialog he has to deliver, but he just breezes through it like a song. Glover (Crispin's dad) is also very good as a loan shark, as is McGuire as the rich Gandil. Mention should also be made of the top two fighters (Tessier & Dimitri). The film needed characters who could pose a threat to Chaney and these two looked just as tough. Now if only Chaney would explain more about those 'in-betweens'... but he doesn't say much.
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Brilliant piece of Work
p_empi26 June 2003
I first saw Hard Times with my Father when it was title "Streetfighter". I was 16 years of age.

Ever since then I would have to say that it still is my favourite Movie, mainly because of the character that Charles Bronson portrays. The Movie basically begins with Bronson (Chaney) stepping of a freight train. If you study his face before he steps of the train you can basically see the hard if not troubled life he has lived up to that moment. One wonders how many of these situations that is about to confront him, has he already been through.

Throughout the film Bronson portrays a loner who knows what he has to do and he does it with complete style. Chaney is a man on a mission and James Coburn (Speed) is the perfect person to assist him. Although he does not show hard earned money enough respect, Speed does know how to make it and he see's Chaney as his biggest chance.

Strother Martin is perfectly casted as Poe, Chaneys mender, although most of the time Poe is never required.

The fight scenes are brilliant and can be watched time and time again, mainly due to Chaneys style, confidence and skill. The last two fights really show his skill, not only as a hitter but as a blocker and tactical fighter.

The final match-up draws out to be a fight of complete tactics with many moments of respect shown between the two fighters.

The "In-betweens" are very interesting and fall into place around Chaneys lifestyle.

The setting of the Movie is perfect, and the remainder of the cast play their parts precisely.

I think Chaney is the type of person most men would want to be. Strong, confident with no strings attached. Look carefully at the condition of Bronson's physique at age 54!

I wonder if Poe and Speed do go back and take care of Chaneys Cat!
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A Great Motion Picture!
abcceo25 October 2004
Charles Bronson heads a wonderful cast which includs James Coburn as "Speed", a fast talking, fast moving promoter and Strother Martin, who was studying to be a doctor, but in his third year of medical school, a black cloud appeared on campus, and he left under it. Times were hard when Bronson, a bare knuckle street fighter arrived in New Orleans, with 8 bucks in his pocket, and an undisclosed past. The movie is genuine, with bare knuckle action and drama. I've lived in New Orleans and know the city and it's people. Everyone should see this movie and enjoy the characters as played by the three main stars. When Charles Bronson(Cheney) leaves town in the end, James Coburn (Speed) and Storther Martin look at each other and say "He sure was something". Yes he was and so was this movie..
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A truly great movie.
dbush6756518 March 2005
This is one of my favorite films. There is a quality about it that touches the soul. Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Strother Martin are superb. Coburn is the character. The story is great, the acting is great and the music is great, particularly the closing piece of blue grass. I saw Hard Times when it first came out and it never left me. I'm not even sure why. Perhaps because all the characters, even the antagonists are depicted as real humans and not caricatures. For example, the loan sharks mean business but aren't bloodthirsty. They want their money and do what they have to to collect. Interestingly they seem genuinely pleased with the resolution of their problem. Even the film's "heavy" has the decency to pay due homage to the skill of his nemesis. And once business is concluded personal relationships are renewed. In my mind this is a true classic.
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Hard To Beat
ttbrowne26 December 2000
A depression era drifter (Bronson) gets involved in the world of street fighting for big bucks. Good vehicle for Bronson who, like Eastwood, can say more with a look than with 20 words. He's the epitome of a hard edged, down but not out, tough guy. James Coburn plays his seedy, gambliholic, money hungry, 'manager' to the hilt. If you're looking for an actor who can make it look easy, watch Coburn in this film. Strother Martin plays a mulatto, hop-head Doctor (kicked out of Med school) they hire to treat Bronsons wounds. This is a man's movie. And the grit is captured perfectly by Director Walter Hill who would go on to direct 48 HRS. Throw in love interest (and Bronson wife) Jill Ireland, New Orleans and The Mob and you've got one hellava film. Don't look for any phony special effects which would have to be included for today's audience, just good acting, plot and grit.
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Just perfect !! Why don't they make 'em like this anymore ??
wmjahn14 July 2006
Just a few days ago I saw HARD TIMES again, after I had seen it already twice some 10 to 20 years down the road. I did remember that I liked it a lot then, but I was not prepared to see how great it actually is! This is one of the movies that gets better with every viewing (liek THE OUTFIT with Bob Duvall)!! Glorious, just perfect and that in EVERY DEPARTMENT!! The OPENING SCENE is so beautiful, it makes you fall on your knees! A long shot of a slowly arriving train in beautifully landscape and run-down buildings of New Orleans, SUPERBLY shot in first rare camera-work, THE MAN standing framed in the door of one of the trains' wagons, the music (and what music, DeVORZONs probably best score, still unreleased = a shame!) starting slowly and you immediately realize here's a drifter, a taciturn MAN arriving in town. Charlie looks sad, run down, tired, WITHOUT mustache, not having had much luck in live. These are just the first 3 or 4 minutes, but one probably never will forget them. GREAT! Like many of the directors, who started their work in the 70ies, Walter HILL is no exception to the "rule", that most of them (if not all of them) made their BEST picture within their first 3 movies released (Carpenter: ASSAULT, Spielberg: DUEL & SUGARLAND EXPRESS, Coppola: THE CONVERSATION, M. Ritchie: PRIME CUT, John Boorman: POINT BLANK, ...): Wlater HILL made HARD TIMES as his debut and although he made some nice pictures later-on, none of his later pictures (the DRIVER, which is # 2 included) could beat HARD TIMES. It's - like EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE - a really beautifully shot study of depression-era America.

Bronson's muscles are - THE MAN being in his mid-50ies then !! - just unbelievable, slim, trim, knock-out hard, every ounce hardened flesh (check out CHATO'S LAND, too!), his acting is 100% on target (he does not look "bored", how some stupid critics wrote, but the way unlucky-in-life depression-era people would most likely look: sad), he is the ideal man for this role, and that just a year after he made DEATH WISH, which proves he was not out for an easy follow-up movie and certainly far away from getting as type-cast as Golan & Globus made him from Death Wish II (1982) onwards (sigh & weep).

JAMES COBURN is great, too, maybe slightly overdoing his sleaziness, but great nevertheless. Jill Ireland has her usual bit-part, she's fine & OK, but not outstanding, whereas nearly all the other character parts are just that: outstanding! Nobody plays himself into the foreground, but everybody fits his part 100%. You'll hardly find any other movie, where the whole cast is as great as in this one.

The STORY is simple but true! I just can't stand those fancy elaborated twist-here twist-there stories , straight forward simple but high-crafted storytelling, one of THE craftsmanship's of US cinema in the 40ies to 60ies (Ford, Mann, Huston) is brought here to another peak! The Camera-work is outstanding, too,a s is Barry DEVORZON's superb bluegrass/jazz/hillbilly score (release it, please!), which is probably just half an hour of music, but certainly deserved a full or at least half-CD release.

In short: BREATHTAKING and certainly one of Charlies best movies of the 70ies (when he made all of his best movies), truly at the same level as MECHANIC & CHATO'S LAND, beating (a little) BREAKOUT and MR. MAJESTYC.

10 out of 10! Go and see yourself!
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Some of the best fight scenes
louis-king31 March 2005
Great role for Bronson.

Compare Bronson's fighting style with almost any other fight movie like Kirk Douglas in 'Champion' or Stallone in the 'Rocky' series. Bronson slips and ducks his opponent's punches like a real fighter does, putting as much effort into not getting hit as he does hitting the other guy. Any fighter taking the hits that most movie boxers take would be unconscious or dead in a matter of minutes, and even sluggers like Rocky Marciano and George Frazier were constantly moving, never offering a good target.

This depression era movie is similar in flavor to the Lee Marvin Ernest Borgnine vehicle 'Emperor of The North'. Both movies have unsentimental, tough, taciturn heroes who communicate more with glances and gestures.
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Great Bronson flick.
Peach-219 December 1998
Hard Times is one of Charles Bronson and Walter Hill's best films. This movie is rugged and has a great feel. Bronson looks in great shape in the film and the direction from Hill is terrific. In the genre of street-fighting pictures, this one ranks as one of the best.
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