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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$ 28.02
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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 Charles Bronson's Best Film Nov. 8 2008
By Moodywoody TOP 500 REVIEWER
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. The mood and atmosphere is truly astounding, and the acting performances of all the players absolutely excellent.

Set during the depression era, this bare knuckle story of a down and out drifter, played by Bronson, who street fights to earn some money is never slow. The fight choreography is breathtaking, and to the director's and screenwriters credit (Walter Hill, Bryan Gindorf, and Bruce Henstell) they manage to not only write an entertaining story, but actually manage to create a variety of characters with interesting depth, highly unusual for a film of this genre.

In my opinion, and I am a Charles Bronson fan, this is his best film. He gives us not only great action sequences, but develops a character of intersting complexity and emotion. A true gritty hero during hard times!!

Also, special kudos have to go out to an exceptionally strong supporting cast. Great performances all around, from James Coburn and Strother Martin to Jill Ireland and Michael McGuire. However, special mention has to go out to Robert Tessier and Nick Dimitri, who not only conveyed scary and tough opponents to Bronson's character, but also showed impressive acting strength in being able to show their characters in more than a one dimensional framework. Especially in respect to Robert Tessier, whom I believe in this film, developed one of the most charismatic and memorable tough guys in cinematic history. A performance he should always be remembered for.

A truly great film.
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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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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 3 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 22 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 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Repeat viewability, good reason to add to your collection!
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. Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2004 by Courtland J. Carpenter
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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