The Last Hard Men

1976

Action / Western

30
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 52%
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 1520

Synopsis


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Cast

James Coburn as Provo
Charlton Heston as Sam Burgade
Barbara Hershey as Susan Burgade
Michael Parks as Noel Nye
720p.BLU
755.25 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 38 min
P/S 3 / 6

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Wuchak 5 / 10

It should've been great, but it's relatively unengrossing with dull characters

Released in 1976 and directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, "The Last Hard Men" is a Western starring Charlton Heston as Burgade, a retired law enforcement officer in Arizona, 1909. When a vicious half-breed outlaw, Provo (James Coburn), escapes from a Yuma prison with several other thugs Burgade gets back in the saddle, literally, because Provo's coming after him and his daughter (Barbara Hershey). Michael Parks plays the sheriff who initially assists Burgade while Jorge Rivero plays Provo's right hand man.

This movie's an interesting cinematic study: It has all the right elements for a great Western, but it's curiously mediocre in execution. The screenplay was taken from Brian Garfield's 1971 novel "Gundown" and Garfield was on set for uncredited rewrites. If you're not familiar with him, he wrote the book that birthed the 1974 hit "Death Wish." Add to this a proved Western director and a great cast (How can you go wrong with Heston and Coburn?). Furthermore, the movie features authentic Arizona locations (where Garfield's from) with much of the story taking place in the rugged wilderness of the high country. Moreover, the film has a quality score. While Leonard Rosenman was supposed to compose an original score, it fell through and so the producers concocted a pastiche from four of Jerry Goldsmith's past compositions: "100 rifles" (1969), "Río Conchos" (1964), "Morituri" (1965) and "Stagecoach" (1966). This explains why the music sounds pleasantly familiar to those who've seen any of these movies. Lastly, this isn't a lame old-fashioned Western, it was shot in the gritty realistic style of Sam Peckinpah, one of Garfield's favorite directors, and, as such, there's a lot of wicked violence, including a rape scene.

Unfortunately the movie's only decent. There are some interesting bits interspersed throughout, but the characters come across as dull and the story's strangely un-compelling (your mind frequently wanders). Burgade (Heston) and Provo (Coburn) are two prime examples of the flat characters. The former's just an uninteresting person (the express opposite of Taylor in "Planet of the Apes") while the latter comes across as a one-dimensional vengeful villain whom Ricardo Montalban probably used as a prototype for his cartoony portrayal of Khan in 1982's "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" (which is in contrast to his fascinating portrayal of Khan in the 1966 episode "Space Seed").

Garfield complained about the title of the movie on the grounds that it was originally set to be called "Burgade" (again, from his novel "Gundown") and "The Last Hard Men" sounds like a porno flick, he argued. But both "Gundown" and "Burgade" are pretty dang generic sounding to me. At least "The Last Hard Men" ties into the theme of the film, which, incidentally, was nothing new at the time in light of "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968), "The Wild Bunch" (1969), "Big Jake" (1971) and several others, not to mention "The Shootist" (1976), which came out a couple months after "The Last Hard Men." So I don't have a problem with the title. That said, I asked my wife if she wanted to see a Western and she replied "Which one?" I said, "The Last Hard Men." She responded, "Ooh baby, yes!"

The film runs 98 minutes and was shot in Arizona (too many places to cite).

GRADE: C

Reviewed by alexandre michel liberman (tmwest) 7 / 10

This western keeps you tense from beginning to end!

This western keeps you tense from beginning to end. reminding one of "High Noon". James Coburn is Zach Provo, the cold blooded killer set upon getting his revenge on lawman Sam Burgade (Charlton Heston). Barbara Hershey is Susan, Burgade's daughter and she will be what Provo will use as a prey to get to Burgade. Provo would be a better villain if he did not talk so much at the final scenes, I missed the laconic Britt from "The Magnificent Seven". The rape scene is shocking and adds emotion to the final showdown, which is not deceiving, but also not up to the expectations. Still, this is one of the best directed by Andrew McLaglen. Christopher Mitchum is Hal Brickman, Susan's boyfriend and he brings to mind Jeffrey Hunter in "The Searchers".

Reviewed by virek213 9 / 10

Peckinpah-style western from a man who studied under Ford

This hard-hitting, often violent western in the Peckinpah/Leone tradition is surprisingly directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, whose previous westerns (particularly those that starred John Wayne) were mainly in the John Ford mode. It is both surprisingly traditional (good guys/bad guys) and incredible up-to-date as well.

Heston portrays a former captain of the Arizona territorial police who has been in retirement for a year, having turned over the law enforcement reins to a reform-minded sheriff (Michael Parks) and finding his ways of enforcing the law being taken over by autos, telegraphs, telephones, and the railroad in the first years of the 20th century. But soon he is confronted with a menace from his past--a half-breed outlaw (Coburn) that he put away more than a decade before for a train robbery that killed four guards. In a subsequent shootout, Coburn's wife was killed; and so Coburn is out for a most nasty sort of revenge. It involves the kidnapping and, eventually, the rape of Heston's daughter (Hershey) by him and his gang. The result is a taut and violent pursuit through the mountains and deserts of southern Arizona.

THE LAST HARD MEN, based on Brian Garfield's novel "Gun Down", is violent in many places, including the showdown between Heston and Coburn, and the rape scene involving Hershey and two members of Coburn's gang (Quade, Paull) is probably every bit as questionable as similar scenes in STRAW DOGS and DELIVERANCE. But that doesn't detract too terribly much from the film's psychological approach to the western genre. McLaglen is able to handle the bloody story with significant panache, and Heston's performance as an aging lawman was probably the best one he ever gave in any of his 1970s films. Coburn makes for an especially cold-blooded heavy, and both Parks and Chris Mitchum (as Hershey's intended husband) do good turns as well. The music here is cribbed from Jerry Goldsmith's scores to 100 RIFLES and the 1966 remake of STAGECOACH, but it still works here.

Wisely filmed totally on location in southeastern Arizona, and utilizing the Old Tucson set, THE LAST HARD MEN needs to be released by Fox on VHS and/or DVD soon. It is a western that deserves nothing less.

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