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In the early 20th century, some convicts while on a road gang escape and one of the convicts is Zach Provo, a half Indian, who was sent to prison during the latter part of the 19th century. He escapes with 6 others to exact vengeance on Sam Burgade the lawman who not only captured him but was also responsible for the death of Provo's wife, at least in Provo's mind. Part of his plan is to kidnap Burgade's daughter, which prompts him to strap on his guns and go after him on horseback. Can Burgade who has been retired for sometime still have what it takes to track Provo down? Written by
The Last Hard Men finds James Coburn an outlaw doing a long sentence breaking free from a chain gang. Do he and his friends head for the Mexican border from jail and safety. No they don't because Coburn has a mission of revenge. To kill the peace officer who brought him in and in the process killed his woman.
That peace officer is Charlton Heston who is now retired and he knows what Coburn is after. As he explains it to his daughter, Barbara Hershey, Coburn was holed up in a shack and was involved in a Waco like standoff. His Indian woman was killed in the hail of bullets fired. It's not something he's proud of, she was a collateral casualty in a manhunt.
Lest we feel sorry for Coburn he lets us know full well what an evil man he truly is. Heston is his usual stalwart hero, but the acting honors in The Last Hard Men go to James Coburn. He blows everyone else off the screen when he's on.
Coburn gets the bright idea of making sure Heston trails him by kidnapping Hershey and taking her to an Indian reservation where the white authorities can't touch him. He knows that Heston has to make it personal then.
Coburn's gang includes, Morgan Paull, Thalmus Rasulala, John Quade, Larry Wilcox, and Jorge Rivero. Heston has Chris Mitchum along who is his son-in-law to be.
The Last Hard Men is one nasty and brutal western. Andrew McLaglen directed it and I'm thinking it may have been a project originally intended for Sam Peckinpaugh. It sure shows a lot of his influence with the liberal use of slow motion to accentuate the violence. Of which there is a lot.
For a little Peckinpaugh lite, The Last Hard Men is your film.
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