During the Great Depression, the mysterious drifter Chaney befriends the promoter of illegal street fights Speed and they go to New Orleans to make money fighting on the streets. Speed is welcomed by his mistress Gayleen Schoonoverand invites his former partner Poe to team-up with them. Meanwhile Chaney has a love affair with the local Lucy Simpson. Speed has a huge debt with the dangerous loan shark Doty and borrows money to promote the fight of Chaney and the local champion Jim Henry, who is managed by the also promoter. Casey wins the fight, they make a lot of money but Speed is an addicted gambler and loses his share in the dice table. But Doty wants his money back and Speed's only chance is Chaney accepts to bet his own money that he is saving and fight a winner that Gandil brought from Chicago. Will he accept the challenge?Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
After driving many miles on dirt roads of the bayou, the sedan is covered with dust. After the fight and they leave, Chaney says they should take the back roads to see the sights. The camera shows the beautiful clean and shiny Packard turn left on to a back road headed for Pettibone's bar. See more »
Just perfect !! Why don't they make 'em like this anymore ??
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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