Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Last Hard Men, The Poor Man's Peckinpah
Year: 1976
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Stars: Charlton Heston, James Coburn, Barbara Hershey, Jorge Rivero, Michael Parks, Larry Wilcox, Christopher Mitchum, Thalmus Rasulala, Morgan Paull, John Quade, Robert Donner, Sam Gilman, James Bacon, Riley Hill, Dick Alexander, Yolanda Shutz, Albert Piña
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: After escaping from an Arizona chain-gang, Provo (James Coburn), a half-Indian outlaw, goes gunning for revenge against retired sheriff Sam Burgade (Charlton Heston). To that end Provo and his gang of fellow escapees kidnap Burgade's daughter Susan (Barbara Hershey) as part of a plan to lure him into a bloody ambush.

Novelist Brian Garfield was ill-served by movies. He greatly disliked the film adaptation of Death Wish (1974) and did not care much for The Last Hard Men either, which was based on his 1971 book "Gun Down." Here journeyman western helmsman Andrew V. McLaglen seemed to be impersonating Sam Peckinpah after a career spent largely imitating John Ford and Howard Hawks. Maybe that's not entirely fair. McLaglen's westerns, while derivative, are generally watchable. A handful even flirt with greatness: i.e. Shenandoah (1965), The Way West (1967), Chisum (1970). Yet on the whole his horse operas are forgettable affairs, sorely lacking the poetry and nuance found in the work of his distinguished mentors. Such is the case with The Last Hard Men, a title that today few outside the arena of gay porn could utter with a straight face.

Written by the splendidly-named Guerdon Trueblood the script pays lip service to familiar Peckinpah themes: the fading of the old west, men out of time, camaraderie between outlaws, old fashioned guile versus cold 20th century technology. However McLaglen's direction lifts only the most superficial aspects of Peckinpah's style, namely slow-motion violence and blood squibs. Also included is one of the more unpalatable aspects of Peckinpah's filmography: lingering misogyny. Barbara Hershey's Susan exists solely to be manhandled and brutalized in scenes all the more uncomfortable because the talented actress works hard to humanize a woefully underwritten role. Despite the urgency of Susan's plight the plot proves frustratingly inert. Between macho musings Trueblood's talky script proves deeply shallow and confines most of the action its third act. We mostly just lazily follow Charlton Heston around as he sweats, grimaces and offs the occasional bad guy. Until the gory yet strangely anticlimactic slow-mo showdown.

Heston's grouchy Sam Brigade, whom one presumes had more depth in Garfield's novel, is a hard hero to like. Bull-headed and self-righteous, he is prone to bouts of sadism. Even so Heston's straightforward characterization arguably suits a story that proves far less profound and faceted than it evidently thinks itself to be. James Coburn, dressed like he is headed for a Wild West themed swinger's party at the Playboy Mansion, starts out an intriguing antagonist. But all too quickly reverts to psychotic cliche. While the leads get by on old time movie star charisma and Hershey elevates an undignified role, McLaglen strands the rest of his supporting cast at sea. We get a Rio Lobo (1970) reunion with Jorge Rivero and Christopher Mitchum here, this time on opposing sides, with neither given much of anything to do. The same goes for future Quentin Tarantino favourite Michael Parks who at least gives a wry turn as a young sheriff that puts more stock in his newfangled telephone than a shootout. Elsewhere Jerry Goldsmith's score frequently goes into bombastic overdrive, trumpeting Big Epic Moments that don't play as convincingly. In fact Goldsmith, a last-minute replacement for original composer Leonard Roseman (who quit because he disliked the film!), culls most of the music from his earlier scores for film and television.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1556 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: