15 January 2005 | ClassicAndCampFilmReviews
Great western spoof, and Lee Marvin steals the film!
Cat Ballou is a movie spoof unlike any other, and a great parody of the Western film genre. Jane Fonda appears in one of her most playful film roles ("Barbarella" is another light and funny Fonda classic), and Lee Marvin gives one of his finest film performances (he won his Oscar for his dual roles). Add to this mix a wondrous soundtrack, with Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye as minstrels of sorts who stroll and sing throughout, making the film almost seem like a musical; an outstanding supporting cast including Michael Callan (who later appeared on TV's "One Life to Live"), and Dwayne Hickman (TV's Dobie Gillis), and the result is this hilarious, thoroughly entertaining film that was nominated for five Academy Awards (Marvin was the sole winner).
Catherine Ballou (Fonda)is a recently graduated-from-school schoolteacher returning home to live with her father on his ranch, but he is gunned down upon her arrival. She enlists the help of a loyal ranch-hand, a couple of outlaws, and most notably, a has-been gunman by the name of Kid Sheleen (Marvin) to help her get revenge. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable film that still stands up today, and Lee Marvin stealing the entire film in his amazing dual role performance as both Tim Strong and Kid Sheleen. Lee Marvin alone makes the film well worth seeing.
The dialogue is great. Take this exchange as an example:
Jackson Two-Bears: "Kid, Kid, what a time to fall off the wagon. Look at your eyes." Kid Sheleen: "What's wrong with my eyes?" Jackson Two-Bears: "Well they're red; bloodshot." Kid Sheleen: "You ought to see 'em from my side."
I was thrilled when the widescreen special edition of this long-time favorite of mine came out in 2003, and on DVD. I have the soundtrack on vinyl, but I have always wished that it would come out on CD; Nat King Cole is one of my all-time favorite singers, and his rendition of "They'll Never Make Me Cry" always makes me...anyway. This film still hasn't lost any of its humor or fun with the passing of time, and stays on of my personal "top ten list" of comedy.