Hard Times 1975
Hard Times[a] is a 1975 crime neo noir sport film marking the directorial debut of Walter Hill. It stars Charles Bronson as Chaney, a mysterious drifter freighthopping through Louisiana during the Great Depression, who proves indomitable in illegal bare-knuckled boxing matches after forming a partnership with the garrulous hustler Speed, played by James Coburn.
hard times 1975
[Bronson was a] very angry guy ... Didn't get along with a lot of people. The only reason I can tell you he and I got along well was he respected that I wrote the script. He liked the script. Also I didn't try to get close to him. Kept it very business-like. I think he liked that. Jimmy Coburn who everybody liked and got along well with, he and I did not get along well. I think he was not in a good mood about being in a movie with Charlie, it was second banana. He had been up there more, and his career was coming back a bit. I don't think he was wild about being second banana. But Charlie was a big star, perceived to be low rent. That was part of his anger ... He thought there was a cosmic injustice when he was not a movie star at 35. He didn't get there till 45 or whatever ... [However] When things had seemed to not be working well, or there was some impasse, Charlie would come down hard on my side. That was tipping point.
Walter Hill's debut feature is a very well made drama about a street fighter in the depression era. The film is very much a sign of things to come for the successful director. The setting is well felt - costumes, cars, locations etc are well on the money. The plot, which largely surrounds a fight promoter and his troubles with local houdlums is interesting - but by far and away the best aspect of the film is the street fights. They are all very raw and hard hitting - the sound effects are awesome. Every punch is extremely satisfying! I love how the fighters are featured too - the biggest man isn't necessarily the best. Charles Bronson is perfect for the central role - quiet, capable and very understated. James Coburn gives excellent support as the smarmy promoter. It all boils down to a fitting conclusion. Hard Times is an all round good film and well worth the time.
HARD TIMES are when the textile workers around this country are out of work - they got four or five kids and can't pay them wages - can't buy them food. HARD TIMES are when the autoworkers are out of work, and they tell em "Go Home!" ...and HARD TIMES are when a man is working a job 30 years, they give him a watch, kick him in the butt and say "hey, a computer took your place, daddy." That's hard times. That's hard times.
Great write-up of a superior movie Jeff, congrats. I thought Coburn and Bronson are very good (their third outing together?) and Hill had already proved in his previous scripts (THE GETAWAY, HICKEY AND BOGGS, THE DROWNING POOL) how deft he was in handling the hardboiled genre. I know what you mean about the blood and always assumed this was simply about securing a lower rating (a bit like going to sepia in TAXI DRIVER to stop it getting an X for the blood-soaked climax). I think when i saw this in the UK it was known as THE STREETFIGHTER, presumably so that nobody would mistake it for a Charles Dickens adaptation!
Ta very much, Sergio! I was thinking along similar lines as you re: the lack of blood pertaining to a lower rating. Still, I think it was a slight mistake on Hill's part. The rest of the film is aces, though. I forgot that Hill did the HICKEY AND BOGGS script...I think he's particularly skilled at these sorts of hard-boiled crime or action dramas (although I've heard his recent Stallone flick, BULLET IN THE HEAD, isn't pretty routine.)
Hi Jeff, This film was released here under the title "The Streetfighter", ( I always acquaint "Hard Times" with the Dicken's novel that I studied during my student days). Charles Bronson certainly spent a long apprenticeship before breaking into the "big" time, but when he did, he attracted a strong following amongst fans of the "action" genre; his craggy features and physical strength added credence to the roles for which he is remembered. When he strayed from this genre, (which fortunately he rarely did), he seemed "miscast" - how on earth did he become involved in the Taylor/Burton film, "The Sandpiper" ?I must admit that one of my personal favourites was "Breakheart Pass" (1975), certainly not one of his best, however the combination of a western adventure and mystery film appealed to me at the time.
Illegal street fighting in the depression and the pairing of Walter Hill (Streets of Fire, Southern Comfort, The Long Riders, The Driver) and Bronson (Death Wish,Yukon,The Mechanic) couldn't be more iconic. Hard Times is probably my favorite film of the director's Pulp-rich, hard-nosed style. I have re-watched multiple times. This Twilight TimeBlu-ray has also been played many times, but it's way out of print now. Those who appreciate the film, director or performers (Strother Martin, Coburn, Jill Ireland) you need this Masters of Cinema, with its great extras and mono option, in your digital library...
ADDITION: Twilight Time (4K restoration) - Region FREE - Blu-ray March 15': We're a bit late-off-the-mark in reviewing this Twilight Time 1080P but my, over-watched, DVD resurfaced so we could do a full comparison. The Blu-ray improves notably offering more natural colors (especially flesh-tones.) and with the higher resolution the detail is far crisper. My only concern was a kind of waxy softness that I noticed a few times. In-motion, however, this was never prevalent and my digitization suspicions remained with little evidence to support any fears. It also appears that the DVD is somewhat vertically stretched or the BD is horizontally stretched. It may be a little of both. The HD shows a bit more information in the frame.
So too does this movie. Showing the terms and price of honor and character rather than just talking about it, Hard Times lives up to its title both in its sharp sense of time and place and its frank and brutal portrait of a man hard enough to live through it.
A mythic fantasy...shot in laconic, bare-knuckled, tough-as-shoe leather style. Sony Picture's Choice Collection line of hard-to-find cult and library titles has released Hard Times, the 1975 box office hit actioner from Columbia Pictures, starring Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Jill Ireland, Strother Martin, Margaret Blye, Michael McGuire, Felice Orlandi, Edward Walsh, Bruce Glover, Robert Tessier, Nick Dimitri, and Frank McRae. The smashing directorial debut of screenwriter Walter Hill, Hard Times' quintessential 70s "buddy picture" format starring "The Streetfighter With No Name" and his fast-talking bankroll, eschews all the cutesy-pie bullsh*t of that subgenre and strips down its Western-inspired fable of survival in Depression-era New Orleans to the barest essentials--with exhilarating results. No extras for this very nice stereo, anamorphically-enhanced widescreen transfer.
I was lucky enough as a little kid to see Hard Times when it first came out, on a double bill at the drive-in with an earlier Bronson epic, The Stone Killer. For the life of me I can't remember too much about that 1973 crime meller, but 1975's Hard Times stayed with me as one of those experiences at the theaters you only understand later as being highly influential on how you see movies in your adulthood. Brutal and exhilarating, and yet still kid-friendly with that PG-rating (very little blood, and no nudity), Hard Times seemed to my 9-year-old brain to be a dark comic book come to life: primitive in tone yet surprisingly sophisticated in execution, and of course, kinetically exciting. And for a good 15 to 20 years or so after it came out, director Walter Hill could routinely be counted on to deliver top-notch action outings like The Driver, The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs., Extreme Prejudice, Johnny Handsome, Trespass, and Last Man Standing, a few of which today (certainly The Driver and The Warriors) can genuinely be considered influential within the genre.
From what I've read, the germ of Hard Times originally came from a Western script Hill wrote, entitled Lloyd Williams and His Brother, that Sam Peckinpah at one point wanted to direct, after helming Hill's script for Steve McQueen's blockbuster, The Getaway. After the success of that picture, and Hill's subsequent high-profile scripts for two less-successful Paul Newman actioners (John Huston's The Mackintosh Man and Harper's sequel, The Drowning Pool), Hill was approached by producer Larry Gordon to work on a story about contemporary streetfighting in California. Hill suggested making it a Western, using parts of his Lloyd Williams script, but Louisiana native Gordon changed the setting to Depression era New Orleans, giving Hill the chance to direct his own screenplay if Hill would work for scale. Limited to a tight budget, Hill originally envisioned then-hot property Jan-Michael Vincent and Warren Oates in the leads, before money was bumped up to hire James Coburn and Charles Bronson, who was that year's fourth most-popular actor at the box office (certainly Bronson's peak in terms of yearly U.S. rankings). Shooting on a quick 35+ day schedule, The Streetfighter, as it was to be released (and as it's still known today overseas), was quickly renamed back to the script's original Hard Times title (to avoid confusion with Sonny Chiba's 1974 martial arts hit, The Streetfighter), and released in theaters in early October, 1975. On a reported budget of 2.8 millions (still relatively peanuts), Hard Times reportedly returned rentals of over twice that, making it a solid--if not Death Wish-sized--hit for Columbia. 350c69d7ab