Hannie Caulder (1971)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/12/21
Cast: Raquel Welch, Robert Culp, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Christopher Lee, cameo my Diana Dors

"There are no hard women. Only soft men."

After being raped, widowed, and left for dead by the notorious Clemens Brothers, the young and beautiful Hannie Caulder (Raquel Welch) dedicates herself to revenge. She implores a bounty hunter named Thomas Price (Robert Culp) to teach her how to shoot, and against his better judgement, he eventually does. There's also a spark of romance and/or lust between them, but it never goes any further than holding hands on the beach. After getting some new clothes and her own custom six-shooter, Hannie finally meets up with the bad guys while Thomas begs her not to go through with her deadly plan. "Win or lose, you lose," but it's too late for Hannie to back down from the men who ruined her life.

It's a simple and straight forward rape-and-revenge film with a standard master/student sub-plot, but simplicity is its greatest strength. Well, apart from the gorgeous Raquel Welch and her impossibly luxurious hair. The filmmakers are keenly aware of what the audience wants to see, and they spend as much time on Ms. Welch as they can. The downside of that is that she's not a strong enough actress to carry the entire film, and her soft spoken delivery comes across as a bit flat. That said, she's still fun to watch and you can't keep your eyes off of her. Robert Culp does a good job as Hannie's reluctant mentor, but his character isn't particularly likable. Which isn't too surprising since he kills people for a living. The Clemens boys are played to near perfection by Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, and Strother Martin, and they often steal the show. What's interesting about them is that even though they're bloodthirsty murderers and rapists, they're treated as comic relief. They're illiterate, mentally unbalanced, not so bright, and spend most of their time yelling, joking, and hurling insults at each other. If they weren't completely psychotic violent criminals, you mind end up feeling sorry for them. A laughably miscast Christopher Lee also shows up as a Confederate gunsmith living in Mexico, who just happens to have a British accent. He's basically just playing himself, and sticks out like a sore thumb. You really have to wonder how that casting decision came about.

The film is gorgeous and beautifully shot, and complemented by a bold and heroic music score. Raquel Welch is lovely throughout, and the action scenes are exciting, well-staged, and shockingly bloody. It's a solidly entertaining film that doesn't push any boundaries, and I enjoyed it quite a lot.