Friday, January 07, 2011

Hannie Caulder + Red Riding 1974

Hannie Caulder. I love westerns. I watched a lot of them while growing up and it's comforting for me to watch a film from this genre. No matter how many I see, they always take me quickly back to my childhood as they were always a popular option among a variety of family members. Hannie Caulder (1971) is one of those westerns that has been kind of "lost" from the DVD world and was just given a release. Having seen a bunch of westerns, I thought I'd never seen it, but early on I realized I had seen it although I may have ten years old at the time. Who knows? It was buried somewhere in my memories, an increasingly foggy place to be located.

Directed by western genre specialist Burt Kennedy, Hannie Caulder stars sexpot Raquel Welch as a woman seeking revenge on three foul, dirty, murdering (they kill her husband), raping no-gooders. Unfortunately she doesn't know the first thing about shooting a weapon until she meets a bounty hunter (Robert Culp) who teaches her the way of the six-shooter. Donning some tight leather britches (she shrinks to a snug fit by wearing them into a bath) and a Mexican poncho with seemingly nothing underneath, Caulder is a smokin' hot vigilante, hell-bent on putting these three into the ground. Ignore the poster with the skin-baring Welch posing friendly with these men--she wants them D-E-A-D.

The three bad brothers are as good as it gets for a western from this era: Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam and Strother Martin. That's top-notch casting right there. You can almost smell the stench that is wafting off of them as they are bearded, filthy, greasy-haired, loud, obnoxious and lacking all sense of morality. They are perfect villains for a revenge western such as Hannie Caulder. I almost wish I could have seen more from them and wish they weren't portrayed as such bumblers. They should have been doing more raping and killing, upping their evil quota before the final showdown with Hannie. This is a fun western that may have been missed or forgotten about through the decades.

Red Riding 1974. Earlier this year a trio of film's were released from England that has been getting a lot of buzz. Originally made for English television and known as the "Red Riding" trilogy, the series starts in 1974 as a serial killer is on the loose, praying on young girls. The mystery is pursued by a young reporter (Andrew Garfield from The Social Network) and he's eager to uncover the who and the why of the murders. As he gets more and more embroiled in the chase, the bloodier he becomes as there's a trail of corruption and nasty people in the midst of the story.

The "Red Riding" world is based on a group of novels by David Peace and they are as much about the corruptible nature of being human as much as they are the actual serial killer (at least the first one is, I haven't seen 1980 or 1983 yet). At times, it's small screen status rings too strongly--it just doesn't feel like a "film" at key moments. It's still a a gritty tale with a lot of darkness in the story. I hope it will expand with each jump forward in time, despite having new characters introduced, or old characters erased, as we get closer and closer to the truth of who is behind these killings and why there are people in power attempting to hide it. While not as blown away by this as some critics, I'm intrigued and have part two in my queue to see soon.

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