“You’re a hard woman, Hannie Caulder.”

“There are no hard women – just soft men.”

Anybody who has spent any time in my company knows how much I enjoy a good revenge thriller.

Those people will also know that, for my sins, I have a real weakness for girls with guns.

I’m not sure where that came from, but show me a photo of a good-looking gal wielding a pistol and it is pretty much guaranteed to get me hot under the collar.

Taking all that into consideration, it was pretty obvious to think that when I stumbled across Hannie Caulder, a film that stars 70s screen goddess Raquel Welch in gun-slinging, revenge-driven mode back in the Old West, I was likely to look at it as something akin to an alignment of the cinematic planets.

But these things do not always go to plan (Winona Ryder in Alien: Resurrection anyone?), so the good news is Hannie Caulder more than lives up to its promise – well, as far as I am concerned anyway.1279341026_2

At a brisk 85 minutes the film takes very little time in getting going, starting off with a botched bank job by the Clemens gang that leaves a host of staff dead.

The gang make off without the loot and decide to hole up at a small ranch, making their dastardly presence felt by first gunning down the man of the house before viciously gang raping his wife (Welch), then burning down the house and leaving her for dead.

Caulder manages to escape the inferno, and before long the opportunity for revenge presents itself when she is found by bounty hunter Thomas Price (played by Robert Culp).

Although Price wants little to do with her at first, Caulder’s persistence pays off and the gunslinger not only agrees to teach Hannie how to shoot, he also opts to take a detour to Mexico (actually filmed in Spain) to introduce her to gunsmith par excellence Bailey, played with relish by Christopher Lee.

Before long Caulder is tooled up and ready for action, stalking the Clemens gang one by one when they conveniently happen to show up in the same town where she is staying.

Think of it as I Spit On Your Boot Hill Grave, with copious shootouts, all filmed in a Peckinpah style, complete with plenty of exploding squibs of garish red paint.

The director, Burt Kennedy, had already proved a dab hand at the western genre with efforts like Support Your Local Sheriff and War Wagon, and his sure hand is in evidence again here.

The chemistry between Welch and Culp is excellent, and Welch is more than pleasing on the eye throughout.81656576_hannie_108160b

In a weird way that also feels slightly uncomfortable in this instance though – after all, we are meant to revile the Clemens gang for raping Caulder, but are then oh-so obviously expected to lust after her ourselves in a range of skimpy outfits.

There are also issues with jarring shifts in tone, with a host of scenes featuring the Clemens gang – Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam and Strother Martin – coming across as more Three Stooges than bloodthirsty bank robbers.

But the whole thing moves so swiftly that you rarely have time to get frustrated – and let’s not forget there is a whole lot right with Hannie Caulder.

In addition to the positives listed above, Lee turns in an excellent performance as Bailey, a far cry from a lot of his output.

And the script positively crackles, with Welch’s Caulder having a whole host of cracking lines as the pace really heats up in the final 20 minutes

Granted, Welch was never going to trouble any awards groups with her display, but it really doesn’t matter.

After all, with Hannie Caulder being such a memorable creation, simply sticking a gun in Welch’s hand and having her mow down lowlifes was always going to be fun in my book.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.