Cat Ballou


(out of 5)

The tone is perfect in this spoof-flavoured western, starring a delicious  as the title character and featuring an Oscar-winning double performance from  as two gunslingers. Fonda returns to the frontier after finishing her education, determined to be a schoolteacher and live on the farm run by her cantankerous and unpopular father (). When he is dealt a raw hand by greedy neighbours and authorities who want his land for future development purposes, Fonda puts on a pair of pants, gets atop a horse and goes in search of revenge. She takes on two hired guns, one of whom she has the hots for, then ropes in a third, once-legendary, now drunk pistol shooter () to go to go after the evil, noseless killer (also Marvin) who has ruined her life, financing the operation with a train robbery that is full of hilarious incidents. Beautiful vistas, a game cast, a musical score performed onscreen by  and  are added to a strangely effective combination of witty dialogue and old world charm for a movie that is too slim to be satisfying but is far too easy to sit through to be worth complaining about. Fonda’s fiery personality and early gumption are unfortunately thrown away quickly in favour of letting the men do all the work, a shameful waste of the charisma she brings to the film that far outdoes her co-stars, but it’s a good time to be had all the same.

Columbia Pictures Corporation, Harold Hecht Productions

USA, 1965

Directed by

Screenplay by , , based on the novel by

Cinematography by

Produced by Harold Hecht

Music by Frank De Vol

Production Design by Malcolm Brown

Costume Design by Bill Thomas

Film Editing by Charles Nelson

Academy Awards 1965

Golden Globe Awards 1965


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