The perfect excuse to watch Hannie Caulder…

Another movie I‘d somehow avoided until Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews tempted me with a Christopher Lee Blogathon. Gosh…I didn’t want to say no but, aside from Lord of the Rings, Christopher Lee roles are unknown to me. Ok..maybe the few minutes, if that, in Sleepy Hollow. But, I thought I needed something more. So, off to IMDB I went. And found the perfect excuse to finally watch Hannie Caulder.

Now, this is one movie that ‘d avoided mostly because the DVD cover just didn’t quite do it for me. It looked a bit…I don’t know…how should I say…ahem…let’s settle for “dodgy” or, to clarify, a bit too “sultry”. And secondly, the story premise, well, I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for it. But then, on the other hand, how bad can a 1971 western with Ernest Borgnine and Raquel Welch really be? So, I set my preconceived judgments aside, entered the Blogathon, watched the movie and….was really pleasantly surprised.

Yes, the beginning, where Hannie Caulder (Raquel Welch) is raped wasn’t pleasant, and I’m never enjoy watching these type of scenes but, after that, it got better. Because, Hannie Caulder, in nothing but a poncho, what appears to be some tatty sole-less shoes and one huge amount of revenge on the mind, comes across bounty hunter Thomas Price (Robert Culp, who, I admit, I’d never heard of before now). She eventually convinces him to teach her how to shoot and starts the search for the three Clemens brother miscreants, so superbly played by Ernest Borgnine (who I always enjoy watching), Jack Elam and Strother Martin. As much as these brothers were absolutely vile characters, the actors taking on these roles…well, wow, they played them brilliantly.And that’s where Christopher Lee comes in. He’s a renown gunsmith Bailey, living in a relatively remote (or maybe just out-of-the way) spot in Mexico. Price, finally having learnt of Hannie’s experience, brings her to Bailey to commission the ideal weapon for her. As much as Christopher Lee has a small role here, he brings this only Western character he played to life with such compassion and insight. I thoroughly enjoyed his role where he, to me, sees more than just two people coming for a gun. He sees beyond what Hannie later claims, that she doesn’t care about Price, that’s she’s only using him. As much as Hannie needs to go on once she has her fast-draw and light(er) gun, there is almost this feeling that she, together with Price, could build up something together. Have a life together. That they realise this while at Bailey‘s. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But, ultimately, I really enjoyed Lee as a father and gunsmith. He also brings some calmness to the movie which balances the chaotic Clemens brothers, who, believe it or not, amongst the havoc they cause, also bring some comic relief.

How the rest of the story pans out, well, I’ll leave that for you to see. No point me giving it away. But, let me just say, don’t be put off by the terrible DVD cover (which in my version has Welch in nothing but poncho/blanket and showing lots of leg and in another has her perched in a revealing dress between the Clemens‘). This is a really good revenge western. And nothing as sultry as the covers would have you think.

Price has his words of wisdom, which resonate far beyond the end credits.

Head on over to the wonderful Blogathon hosts, Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and Cinematic Catharsis (here) for more on Christopher Lee.

30 comments

  1. Catharine, I enjoyed you’re really good write-up of HANNIE CAULDER(1971). Isn’t it nice to be pleasantly surprised about a movie. I was pleasantly surprised when I first viewed the movie on the CBS THURSDAY NIGHT MOVIE in 1975. Well, as we know, for the most part, we shouldn’t judge a movie by its posters, or its photographed publicity stills, because they usually don’t have very much to do with the movie. Also, the so-called critics of the day didn’t like the movie, what so ever. I think HANNIE CAULDER is a good Western and deserves its reappraisal, which it has been receiving the last 10 years. This western revenge tale allows Raquel Welch to have one of her better roles and she is good in the role. Ms. Welch and Robert Culp click rather well together, and there are some good moments in the movie. I think HANNIE CAULDER is well worth watching.

    About Robert Culp, he is a good actor known primarily for his three TV series. TRACKDOWN(1957-59), I SPY(1965-68) and THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO(1981-83). Also, Culp is very good in his four appearances on the COLUMBO TV series.

    Here are some other Western Movies with strong female characters that you and your readers might be interested in: ARIZONA(filmed 1939, released 1940), HELLFIRE(filmed 1948, released 1949), THE FURIES(filmed 1949, released1950), RANCHO NOTORIOUS(filmed 1951, released 1952), WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED(1953), JOHNNY GUITAR(filmed 1953, released 1954), GUNSLINGER(1956), and many more.

    Take care. Walter S.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Walter,

      Wow, thank you for your wonderful comment. I really appreciate the insight and tips. And yes, absolutely agree that is one of the best things to be taken by surprise by a movie. Often this happens when I least expect it making it even more special.

      I can’t believe I’ve never watched Johnny Guitar as it has been on my To Watch list for ages. I really mean to change that asap! As for Gunslinger, that looks great – thanks for that. In fact, thanks for all those tips you’ve given me as I would have missed them. Can’t wait to give them a go. I’ll let you know how they go.

      Enjoy the rest of the week,
      Catherine

      Like

      1. Catherine, forgive me for misspelling your name. JOHNNY GUITAR(filmed 1953, released 1954) is an unusual movie for its time, to say the least, and I think it is well worth viewing. Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge are unforgettable in their roles and what a cast of good character actors.

        GUNSLINGER(1956) with Beverly Garland, Allison Hayes, and John Ireland is, I think, a good enjoyable movie.

        Take care. Walter S.

        Like

        1. Ah, thanks Walter…I can’t wait to get my hands on these two movies. Looking forward to it.

          Have a lovely weekend!

          PS: No worries about the name…I didn’t even notice 🙂

          Like

  2. Very interesting article. I enjoy watching Lee in anything and Welch was capable of being more than a pretty face. Assault scenes are not to my liking but you have piqued my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard of this one, but never seen it, after reading your review I’m sold. Raquel Welch appeared in a few decent westerns in this period, Bandolero and The Legend of Walks Far Woman spring to mind. I’d be interested to see Christopher Lee in a western, but when was he anything but excellent? And kudos to whoever cast the Clemens’ brothers, Borgnine, Elam and Strother Martin are three of my favourite character actors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh…thanks for the western tips. Will check them out. I’ve only seen Raquel Welch in The Last of Sheila before this – really good mystery that I think you would enjoy.
      As for the Clemens brothers…they are just brilliant. Well worth watching just for them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Last of Sheila does sound good, another great cast with James Coburn and James Mason and the very underrated Dyan Cannon. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting review!
    Generally, westerns are one of my least favorite genres of film, but this one sounds really good! Especially with that cast!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Not a big western fan, but I love Raquel Welch and of course Christopher Lee, so I will definitely give this one a try!

    Liked by 1 person

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