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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

'Hannie Caulder' BD: Raquel Welch Rape-Revenge Western

The new best friend of lovers of quality cinema Olive Films November 15, 2016 Blu-ray release of the beautifully shot and scored 1971 Raquel Welch drama "Hannie Caulder" is the latest example of Olive proving that many Westerns have far more depth than cinephiles who do not watch them believe. The recent (Unreal TV reviewed) Olive BD release of the oft-imitated classic "High Noon" and the earlier BD release of the (also reviewed) "Gun the Man Down" are other examples of this.

'60s sex kitten (and current smokin' cougar) Raquel Welch delivers an exceptional performance as the titular Old West widow in this early rape-revenge film. The action starts with the amusingly bumbling and bickering outlaw Clemons brothers pulling a bank robbery gone horribly wrong. A shot from the POV of a rifle is the first of many clues that "Hannie" is not a kiddie matinee oater.

Les Freres Clemons set the primary action in motion on stopping at the home of Caulder and her husband in the wake of the siblings fleeing the scene of their most recent crime. Excitable boy/loose cannon younger brother Rufus (played by perfectly cast character actor Strother Martin) continues making trouble for his kin by enthusiastically raping Caulder on finding her in bed almost immediately after killing her spouse. Oldest brother Emmett (played by Oscar-winner Ernest Borgnine) and middle brother Frank (played by Westerns legend Jack Elam) take their turns with Caulder before burning the house and leaving Caulder for dead.

Caulder subsequently buries her husband and then soon encounters well-known bounty hunter Thomas Luther Price (played by tough guy Robert Culp, who is best known for his television light-drama series "I Spy" and "The Greatest American Hero.") Caulder convincing a reluctant Price to train her to shoot so that she can get revenge against the Clemmons boys leads to a (complete with montage) "Karate Kid" style training program.

Meanwhile, we see the Clemmons continue their entertaining crime spree while squabbling with each other. The best lines regarding this aspect of the film come at the expense of Luther. One of the best is a comment that he has even less between his legs than he has in his head.

All of this leads to the inevitable showdown in which Caulder and Price find themselves in the same frontier town as the nemeses of the former This segment also establishes the literal relative value of Emmett and his bros compared to other nefarious types.

Welch particularly shines in the predictable encounters with Rufus and Frank ahead of the inevitable climatic showdown with Emmett. Highlights of this include Caulder proving her integrity, a Clemmons sibling meeting a hilariously undignified end, and the gunfight between Caulder and Emmett being being so much more than a gunfight on a dusty deserted Western street. The '60s favorite sex symbol shows that she can kick ass as well as (if not better) than the boys.

All of the above demonstrates that "Hannie" is well-worth adding to you home-video collection. The fact that this review leaves plenty more to discover on watching it provides more incentive to check it out.

The special features include commentary by "Repo Man" director Alex Cox, a highly entertaining and informative documentary on rape-revenge films hosted by very engaging film scholar Ben Sher, and a "making-of" extra.

The set also includes a booklet with an aptly titled essay "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance." This comprehensive piece discusses the film itself, the rape scene, and the nature of the subject matter.

Anyone with questions or comments regrading "Hannie" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.