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
According to Walter Hill, Charles Bronson "was in remarkable physical condition for a guy his age; I think he was about 52 at the time. He had excellent coordination, and a splendid build. His one problem was that he was a smoker, so he didn't have a lot of stamina. I mean, he probably could have kicked anybody's ass on that movie, but he couldn't fight much longer than 30 or 40 seconds." See more »
1973 date on Boxcar visible. To be accurate all Boxcars would have had roof walks. Removal started in 1968. See more »
There's no point in avoiding this thing, you know; it's going to happen.
You want it that much?
I'm getting paid.
[Chaney turns away and goes back to his beer]
I can always reach over and start things right now.
[takes a swig of beer without looking at Street]
Yeah, but you won't.
You don't think so?
[Chaney finishes his beer and walks past Street to leave]
You're not going to do it for free.
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Not Only Brilliant, But Honest and Authentic In Every Way
A desperate hobo boxes to make some extra money in the Depression. No love story, no cute little kids, no happy ending, no redemption. Just a hard man doing what he has to in order to survive. But on his terms.
To understand why HARD TIMES is a masterpiece, compare it to other films from around this time.
BONNIE AND CLYDE, THE STING, and PAPER MOON were all massive box office hits, set in the Depression. All three movies "strain" for a sense of desperate characters in a dog-eat-dog world, but every one of them cops out with Hollywood glitz and glamor. Here's giggly Warren Beatty pretending he knows what it's like to be poor. And here's Faye Dunaway, the dead-end girl, wearing scrumptious couture while she robs banks. Here's Robert Redford, the ultimate preppy blonde pretty boy, delicately hobnobbing with down-to-earth "Negroes" and glowing with his own virtue. Here's Ryan O'Neil, tough as nails and a real fighter, but hey, it's okay -- he's got a cute little girl along for the ride! One close up of Charles Bronson's face takes you to a place no other Depression picture dares to go. The ugly violence and the hopelessness in this film are so real that they actually build up the character even more than Bronson's natural authority and physical presence. It's the perfect vehicle for the perfect star.
Bronson is enough -- but there's so much more. James Coburn as the manager Speed, so dishonest yet completely likable and in his own way a real hero. Maggie Blye and Jill Ireland, both sexy and authentic as Depression women -- Jill too sickened by failure to ever love again, Maggie too aware of how short life is to ever let a minute go by without a laugh. Either one of them could wipe the floor with "Bonnie" from Bonnie and Clyde. Strother Martin as Poe, the dope addict cut man who adds his own humor, sadness and resignation to a movie utterly packed to the brim with memorable characters.
This is the most powerful and honest movie ever made about hard times.
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