Hannie Caulder Review

At the start of Hannie Caulder, Raquel Welch - playing the eponymous heroine - has to suffer the twin indignities of seeing her husband killed and undergoing a particularly lurid rape sequence. As if this wasn't enough to drive any woman mad, her rapists force her to endure some of the most lip-smacking, thigh-slapping overacting in cinema history - this is courtesy of those shy, retiring supporting players Ernest Borgnine, Strother Martin and Jack Elam. Unsurprisingly irked by this ungentlemanly behaviour, Hannie decides to team up with a more suitable man than the aforementioned triple threat, a bounty hunter called Price (Robert Culp). Needless to say, romance soon follows and Price teaches her a few home truths about survival while teaching her to shoot with the assistance of a gunmaker played by Christopher Lee who looks absolutely fantastic in Western garb and thoroughly relieved not to be wearing a cape.

Hannie Caulder looks and feels like a typical American Western of the period - i.e. shot in Spain - so it's some surprise to find that it's actually a British film with a large part of the financing put up by Tigon. The only real hint of this is the somewhat unlikely presence of Diana Dors. There aren't all that many British Westerns and even fewer good ones so this movie has a small claim to fame in that it's not only not bad but actually quite diverting. Burt Kennedy's direction is splendidly pacy and he captures the atmosphere rather better than in some of his other films of this period - particularly a snooze-fest like The Train Robbers. Edward Scaife's cinematography is praiseworthy too as is Ken Thorne's absolutely delicious music score - his main theme is a corker.

My main reservations about the movie concern the acting which is either fairly blank or ludicrously overstated. Raquel Welch looks good but shows no sign of being able to act and, as previously stated, Martin, Borgnine and Elam are rather embarrassing. But to balance this, it should be pointed out that Robert Culp is excellent as an unlikely but appealing hero and his dry underplaying just about steals the film.

Odeon's release of this movie rectifies an injustice. A few years ago, Anchor Bay released Hannie Caulder in a poor transfer which was wrongly framed at 1.85:1. Thankfully, this new DVD is correctly framed at 2.35:1. It's a nice picture too with strong colours and a decent level of detail. The soundtrack is more than acceptable and the film is accompanied by the original trailer. At the low price for which this disc retails, it's very good value.

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