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
The most grueling filming for the movie was the climactic fight match between Charles Bronson and the fighter promoted by Michael McGuire who plays a respectable seafood merchant with a yen for sports and illegal gambling. The scene, which took more than a week to shoot, because of the fight's complicated movements, was filmed in a riverfront warehouse on Tchoupitoulas Street, a rough area where even the street-fighter played by Bronson may have feared to venture. For days on end, Bronson and Nick Dimitri would square off under the hot lights, watched intently by McGuire and his hoods, James Coburn, and Strother Martin - and a few dozen cameramen, technicians, and crew members. The first thing a visitor to that set would have noticed was the overwhelming smell of the place. To create the illusion of being a seafood warehouse, several Styrofoam oyster bins were stocked with several very real - and very odiferous - oyster shells. An attempt to cloak the fumes with a commercial disinfectant made matters worse. See more »
The Illinois Central Railroad boxcar after the last big fight is painted/blacked-out but its logo can still be clearly identified as the 1967-1972 vintage rather than the depression-era of the movie setting. See more »
Chaney, I'd like you to meet my old friend Poe. He'll fix up your cuts, bruises - all sorts of good things.
I have two years of medical school to recommend me.
Two years doesn't make a doctor.
Well, in my third year of studies a small black cloud appeared on campus; I left under it.
What he's trying to say is that he's a dyed-in-wool hophead.
I have a weakness for opium.
That's a habit that's hard to quit.
Some are born to fail, others have it thrust upon them. Could I see your hands?
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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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