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Serious and Funny
They Done Her Wrong
Raquel Welch, Robert Culp and Christopher Lee all together in one movie and that movie is a western tale of rape and betrayal directed by the talented Burt Kennedy. This story has sizzling characters, unexpected laughs and a grimy crew of villains that you will like, despite yourself. The best band of bad guys ever collected on film. Sharp one liners. Welch is the queen of playing strong women. No damsel in distress. Bit racy
IMDB: After she is raped and her husband murdered, a woman hires a bounty hunter to instruct her in the use of a gun so she can get her revenge on the three outlaws responsible.
Westerns are rarely funny and, when they are, they are usually pretty campy, low-grade stuff, but not Hannie Caulder. From the bumbling, keystone cops like antics of the rapist brothers to the dry, straight-faced delivered lines of the rest of the players, this movie is very humorous without being silly.
Not just content with raping the most beautiful woman on Earth and murdering her husband, the bad guys decide to run off all of her horses and, to put a cherry on top, they burn down her house too!
Burt Kennedy's Westerns
Burt Kennedy gave us all some of the best westerns ever put on film. I was surprised to discover what a large influence he had been on my life when I realized that he had made so many of the movies I adored as a kid. Actually, scratch that. I didn't just adore those movies when i was a kid. To be truthful I still love them now.
Burt was an American screenwriter and director who had a colorful and interesting life that I am sure helped flavor his movies. He was the son of performers and was even part of their act, "The Dancing Kennedys", right from infancy. A few years later he served as a cavalry officer in World War II and was highly decorated. I bet that was a sure fire line to use on the ladies!
Burt also write radio programs such as "Hash Knife Hartley" and "The Used Story Lot" but he wasn't going to stop there. By using his army fencing training he was able to land work as a stunt fencer in the movies.
He was even hired by John Wayne's company to write movies for them. He also wrote and directed episodes of then popular and now still famous television shows like Lawman (1958), The Virginian (1962) and most notably Combat! (1962).
Kirk Douglas and The Duke
Another classic movie directed by Burt Kennedy. The War Wagon (1967) has everything you could want in a western. Wrongly imprisoned men returning to their home towns for justice; gunfights; gold; armored stage coaches and, best of all, the inimitable Kirk Douglass and the iconic John Wayne. The Duke's performance is even more remarkable when you take into account that, in 1964, he had lost his entire left lung as well as several ribs in major surgery for cancer. Tough onscreen and off! The director, Burt Kennedy, even gave up half his salary so that he could afford to hire Kirk Douglas. Now that is a director who's dedicated to telling the story in the best way that he can.
A Burt Kennedy Comedy Western
Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) is hands down one of the funniest movies that I have ever seen. My wife also loves it and watches it even more than I do. James Garner is at his best, playing a straight faced, dead-pan newcomer to town who winds up becoming sheriff. There are so many quirky and hilarious moments in this film that I would be cheating you to try and describe them to you. All I will say is that, after you watch the seen where Garner displays his unnatural shooting prowess by using a washer, you will have to pause the movie for five minutes so you can laugh it out of your system. I encourage you enthusiastically to watch this western. I promise you that you will be changed by this flick. You will definitely find yourself saying to people "I'm on my way to Australia." And the movie doesn't happen anywhere near Australia.
Written & Directed by Burt Kennedy
The Train Robbers (1973) is a really enjoyable western in which Ann-Magret's character hires John Wayne and Rod Taylor to find and recover some gold that was stolen by her husband. Of course it won't be that easy. There are bad men that also want the gold for themselves. Inevitably they clash with blazing gun battles in the searing desert. This piece is perfect for Wayne and the rest of the cast greatly add to the film's entertainment experience. I've watched this movie many times over the years since I first saw it on television and it never fails to impress me every time. Fan's of westerns or just plain good movies will be proud to add this to their movie library.
Hannie Caulder Photos
The Bad Guys
Jack Elam, Earnest Borgnine and Strohter Martin, these are the crew that make up the bad guy dream team in the Hannie Caulder revenge tale. Each actor is a legend on their own and put together as a gang of blood-thirsty brothers, they become the icon for how being bad can be done oh so very well. One IMDB reviewer I read wrote "If you can imagine 'The Three Stooges' as utterly filthy, scummy vagabonds with a propensity for murder, rape and theft". He sure nailed it, that is a pretty accurate description of what this evil trio are like. Although they are a bit of a contradiction in some ways too. These guys commit rape, murder and are generally not very nice people and yet, despite all of their offensive shortcomings, they still make us laugh. I'm not saying I would want them to live next door to me but they are a funny bunch and they keep the laughs coming even when they are being perfectly horrid human beings.
Like everyone else in this movie, the unholy trinity of evil are underappreciated as actors. Typecast as bit-players for too much of their careers, these boys are talented and good at what they do. That is well demonstrated in Hannie Caulder. Their characters are not just the cardboard cut outs for guys who wear black hats, even though the roles could very easily have been played that way. But Elam, Borgnine and Martin are made of better stuff than that and they make sure you get the full value for your ticket. Their interpersonal interactions feel real. You truly believe that they are indeed brothers who grew up together and have spent their lives living in each other's pockets. They boss their little brother around and bully him and it makes you laugh.
Who's The Best?
Which is your favorite western star?
Robert Culp as Thomas Luther Price
How many years has Robert Culp given us wonderful entertainment? From the I Spy television series to his hilarious portrayal as an FBI agent in The Greatest American Hero, Culp has been giving us hours of fun for a long, long time. With that many road miles under his feet you might think that he would eventually have to run out of fresh things to offer us and start repeating himself but it seems he can just keep creating new things all of the time.
In Hannie Caulder he plays a bounty hunter who's long years of hard experiences show on him. That's not to say that he seems worn out or haggard, it just suggests that his deadly lifestyle has taught him some rough lessons. He's as hard a $2.00 steak and about as warm and friendly as an old cactus. Tough as old boot leather, he is a man who is used to being alone and living life his way, on his terms and no one else's. How tough is he? He's so tough that, even when a half naked Raquel Welch offers to make his assistance 'worth his while' (ahem), Culp barely flinches and turns her offer down. Now that is one thick skinned hombre.
But boy is he cool in this picture. He might hunt men for money and live by the way of the gun but his one wolf existence doesn't mean that he isn't one pretty interesting fella. He might even have a soft heart under all that boilerplate. He does, after all, agree to help out the newly destitute Caulder and show her the ropes of gunplay.
Most movie watchers know the great Christopher Lee either as the dark villain, Count Dracula, in the British Hammer horror films or, more recently, as the powerful wizard Saruman in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series. While he was iconic in both of those roles, watching him in this movie will make you regret that he did not take on more parts like the one he plays in Hannie Caulder.
In a staggeringly long career that spanned more than seventy years and hundreds of films, Christopher Lee only ever made one western and this was it. He plays a gunsmith who forges a one of a kind pistol for Hannie to help her in her bid for revenge against the trio of rapists that she is hunting. While his screen time is unfortunately limited, Lee makes an impression on us that will have you believing that he is a major cast member who dominates a large part of the story. Such lasting impressions made with efficient grace and almost nonchalant power are a hallmark of Lee's work. It is too often overlooked that Lee, in donning the long, black cape of Dracula, was stepping into the very large shoes previously filled by Bela Lugosi. Having to perform with that shadow hanging over you would be enough to make anyone nervous. But not Christopher Lee. But then again, what else would you expect from a man who had such a shadowy past in the British special forces?
Who do you think was the best Dracula?
More Than A Piece of Meat
This movie should have been a fluff piece. Raquel Welch, by any standards, is one of the most beautiful women you can imagine. A thick mane of wild hair, dark, sensuous eyes, gorgeous skin and a body of other worldly perfection. Take all that and wrap her in a barely there, racy and revealing poncho and it would have been easy for Welch to phone this one in. And yet, to her eternal credit, she didn't. She gave the role of Hannie Cauler her all and held nothing back. A diverse number of reviewers and fans have noted that this may actually be Raquel Welch's best role. You won't get any argument from me. A story so engaging that even a scantily clad beauty who has the proportions of a Greek statue can't distract your attention. If you ever made the mistake of thinking of Welch as just a piece of eye-candy then you will see how wrong you were once you get a load of her acting in this overlooked gem.
I had to hunt for years to find a copy of this movie and it is a glorious addition to my library. I recently showed it to my wife for the first time and she really enjoyed it. She particularly liked Robert Culp's cool performance.
Watch Gunslinger (1956)
Gunslinger, the movie Hannie Caulder might have been based on
- Gunslinger (1956) - IMDb
Directed by Roger Corman. With John Ireland, Beverly Garland, Allison Hayes, Martin Kingsley. After her husband is gunned down, Rose Hood takes his place temporarily as marshal of a small Western town.
A Personal Note
Thanks for reading the article! I really like this movie a lot and fear that I have not done it the proper justice that it deserves. I will continue to work on this hub, re-writing it from the copious notes that I made while watching it again recently. If you think I missed anything or have a suggestion about how to improve this article, please let me know. I will take any feedback or suggestions you would like to offer. Thanks again for reading!