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Hard Times (Full Screen)

Charles Bronson , James Coburn , Walter Hill    DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 29.35
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Walter Hill's colorful directorial debut has quite a cult following for its toughness and violence; it may well be his best film, in fact. Charles Bronson plays a silent street fighter in New Orleans in the '30s managed by the cool James Coburn. Jill Ireland, Strother Martin, and Michael McGuire costar in this spare existential Depression dirge. It owes a lot to its noir origins that Hill adores so much, yet there's something very fresh and vital about its subject and approach. That's really what made so many of these films from the '70s so endearing. An added bonus is the love and affection displayed by the real-life husband and wife team of Bronson and Ireland. --Bill Desowitz

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Bare Knuckle Action in the Big Easy May 28 2004
By A Customer
This movie is a classic tribute to the subject of "prize fighting". Released in 1975 and directed by Walter Hill, it centers around a 1930's depression drifter named Chaney (Bronson). Chaney is the consummate drifter ---- indifferent and reluctant to commit. However, he ends up in New Orleans and stumbles upon the local subculture of bare knuckle fighting. He then convinces a local hustler by the name of Speed Weed (Coburn) to let him be his next "hitter". Chaney's silent, strong presence brilliantly complements Speed's enormously extroverted style ---- Chaney is the soft-spoken, rugged fighter and Speed is the colorful, manager promoter. However, Chaney's reluctance to commit proves to be a reoccurring test for Speed Weed. Even with his girlfriend Lucy, played by Bronson's wife Jill Ireland, Chaney is emotionally detached and shows an easy comes, easy goes attitude.
Chaney wins a few tough illegal fights bare-fisted but Speed falls victim to his own careless wheeling and dealing and is unable to pay his debt to a gang of thugs. As a result, Chaney is forced to fight one last fight with Street ---- a big bear of a man played by Nick Dimitri. This is a climatic event in the movie with both fighters waging one of the most gripping fight scenes this side of Hong Kong. Even better ---- the fight scenes are choreographed the old-fashioned way without relying on special effects
Strother Martin provides a great supporting role as the languid and shady character known as Poe ---- he provides medical advice despite an opium addiction and his failure to finish medical school. Martin also played the prison warden in the movie, "Cool Hand Luke".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Bronson DVD May 3 2004
This film is, in my opinion, one of the best Bronson films along with Honor Among Thieves, Rider on the Rain, Red Sun, and From Noon Till Three. This role is tailor made for Bronson's tough, silent persona(like Chato's Land). This film was released in 1975 but was filmed in 1974-most films, after they finish filming, go into post production, editing and then are released up to a year after they actually finish shooting the final scene. Bronson was 52 yrs old(not 54) when he appeared in Hard Times. Bronson was born in Nov. 1921 and Hard Times was shot prior to his 53rd birthday in 1974.
If you watch the scene in the meat packing plant in Clint Eastwood's film Every Which Way But Loose, it seems like a direct rip-off of the Hard Times scene in Pettibon's joint--the manager of the defeated fighter won't pay up until a gun is produced. Also, in Eastwood's sequel Any Which Way You Can, Wilson, after scouting out Philo Beddoe's fighting ability, remarks "It's been a pleasure watching you work". This, to me, is a direct rip-off of Gandil's line to Chaney after the final fight in Hard Times. Interesting to note that Hard Times was released 3 yrs before Every Which Way... and 5 yrs before Any Which Way...
I happen to be a Bronson "fan" and own most of his starring role films as well as many of his supporting role films, but even if you are not all that interested in Bronson's work, you will still probably find this an excellent film in it's own right. The DVD is, in my opinion, crystal clear both in picture and sound, and gives you the added bonus of viewing in full or widescreen formats(the widescreen is 2.35:1 and is authentic widescreen). Towards the beginning of the film, there is a scene between Bronson and Coburn which takes place in an oyster bar.
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No this is hardly a genuine classic film. The performances are decent, but nothing special. Still, this is one of those films; you just want to see again. Charles Bronson plays a drifter, down on his luck with one marketable talent. He's a great bare-knuckle fighter who needs to earn a few bucks to live on for a while. Nothing is ever explained who he really is, or how he became such a good fighter. His explanation to his new found promoter (played with some flair by James Coburn) is that fighting is something he's doing just for a while.
So why is this something you'd want to see again. Actually, it's the fighting. Rarely has anyone filmed a movie with more innovative fist fighting styles. I'm guessing that a lot of the actual punches thrown, would not be practical in any real fight, still they look great on film. Each of the main fights has its own array of tactics that make in interesting. The best of which, is the second before last fight, which boasts some interesting, overhead camera work.
I'm guessing this movie obtained in character, what Patrick Swayze, was trying to accomplish in Road House. A woman he meets treats Bronson as a shiftless drifter. After a brief attempt to get to know her, she dumps him when she finds a man with a steady job. He then shows himself to have some real character, (at least to himself and the audience) by putting it all on the line. Instead of leaving town, he decides to help his new promoter, who's gotten in trouble with the load sharks. This gives the movie an ending, and even somewhat of a purpose outside of the great fistfights.
The DVD looks to be a little thin on extras', which is too bad; I'd love to know more about how they staged those fight scenes. A film this old that has not quite made the bargain bins in price, means the demand is still hot. It usually means it's worth adding to your personal collection for repeat viewings.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Films Greatest non pretty-boy leading men
Charles Bronson as a Bare-Knuckle Boxer in the early 20th Century, this should please fans of cage matches.
Published 2 months ago by Chales V. Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Fights
Really enjoyed it, the fights were all very well done, for a film pushing 40 years old, I still found it entertaining, liked the costumes and cars it really looked like what I... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Peter Horlacher
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies, period.
This movie was made in the 70's and set in the 30's. It is a simple plot about redemption, from the point of view of a streetfighter (Chaney, played by Bronson) who makes money off... Read more
Published on July 15 2009 by H. M. Styranka
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Bronson's Best Film
Hard Times is not only a supremely entertaining film, but a true artistic achievement. The director, Walter Hill, took a simple story and turned it into a cinematic masterpiece. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2008 by Moodywoody
5.0 out of 5 stars Bronson's Best
Hard Times is definitely Charles Bronson's greatest movie IMO. In fact it's one of my all time favorites overall. Some movies can be viewed and enjoyed several times. Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2008 by chuck canuk
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Hitting Action !!!
A real gem ! Contrary to another review (14JAN04)- 'Hard Times' stands-out as Bronson's finest action film. Read more
Published on May 11 2004 by Robert Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars "I knock people Down"
Charles Bronson is the archetypal loner/depression-era knight, riding into town on that fraight-train named poverty. And this guy can fight! Read more
Published on March 10 2004 by lawrence m schloss
5.0 out of 5 stars "It makes me feel a hell of a lot better than it does him."
Bronson was a man's man. No question about that.
Great period piece with fantastic action fight scenes and terrific finale. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2004 by Ghenghis
5.0 out of 5 stars A Knockout
Many like to laugh at Charles Bronson(myself included) because of his typecasting in 80s vigilante style action flick where he's usually portrayed as a senior citizen taking out... Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2003 by Stanley Runk
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Bronson in Hard Times
"Hard Times" stars Charles Bronson as Chaney a down and out bare knuckle boxer trying to get by in the middle of the depression. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2003 by Tim Glover
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