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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look: 30.77%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad53.85%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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Cat Ballou
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by MP Bartley

"Marvin's One Man Show."
2 stars

Lee Marvin is just about the only reason to bother with Cat Ballou. The trouble is, he's only in about half the film.

That's right, Lee Marvin pulled a Hannibal Lecter decades before Anthony Hopkins did, and snaffled up a Best Actor Oscar for what's really a supporting role.

He's Kid Shelleen, a drunken soak of a gunfighter, existing on whiskey fumes and his reputation when he's hired by Cat (Jane Fonda) to protect her and her father from a greedy landowner who has them in his sights.

It's one of the oldest Western tales imaginable, the old sharpshooter on a steep decline is given one last chance at redemption by a young girl, and Marvin has a ball with it. Infamously one of the hardest men to set foot in Hollywood, he carries that baggage with him as Shelleen and never feels the need to play it up. He's Lee Marvin, we know he's dangerous. What Marvin rarely had the chance to do, however, was exercise his funny bone and that's mainly what he does here. Careering around the screen, slurring out his gems of wisdom, he's an absolute hoot. The script doesn't give out a lot of memorable lines, but the ones it does, Marvin drawls out brilliantly. It does tend to take the attention away from his second performance as villainous murderer, Tim Strawn, however.

Oh, I'm sorry - did I forget to mention he plays dual roles in this? He does, and it's one of the film's big flaws that it doesn't really do anything with this decision. Make no mistake, we're not talking Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove levels of inspired genius here. No, it's just a forced diversion of wackiness that is unfortunately prevalent throughout the film. From a singing Greek chorus to sped up chase sequences scored with c--c-crazy music, Cat Ballou tries to be a frenetic, high-pitched farce - but it simply isn't funny enough for that. Fonda's doe-eyed beauty looks luminous but caught between virginal school ma'am and roistering gunfighter, she flails about trying to catch hold of our attention, but not actually doing much at all.

And that's the film all over, really. It flails and yells and screeches around the place, but never really grounds itself in anything particularly memorable. All this effort and what you end up with is a mainly dull experience that looks like an episode of Bonanza.

See it for Marvin, but then do yourself a favour and watch him in something better - not that that's a particularly difficult challenge.

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originally posted: 10/21/11 04:07:54
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User Comments

11/16/11 Steve Capell I liked the comedy western with great music. 4 stars
3/22/08 Pamela White Marvin makes the movie 4 stars
8/01/06 Sepi53 Nice film! 5 stars
11/10/05 Michael Interesting style ... lacked lots as a good movie though 3 stars
7/26/04 R.W. Welch Quirky, entertaining oater with Oscar perfs by Marvin. 4 stars
7/24/04 tatum Really dull western comedy comes alive only when Marvin is onscreen 2 stars
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  24-Jun-1965 (NR)
  DVD: 03-Jun-2003

  24-Aug-1965 (PG)

  24-Aug-1965 (G)

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