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  • 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.
  • I watched Cat Ballou again the other day after a gap of over 35 years. A spoof western, definitely. That Lee Marvin should not have won the Oscar? No way. It is far more difficult to carry off a role in what is obviously a pastiche than to excel in a serious dramatic part. Lee Marvin plays it to perfection. Watch his face in the bar scene in the hole in the wall, desperately trying to catch the moment to propose a toast - "I'll drink to that!". It's brilliant. This film has to be watched in the context of its time. It is no good trying to compare it to today's special effects dominated blockbusters or Pixar animations. The semi-musical format was innovative, and remains so today. Cat Ballou is a perfect example of 60's "cool".
  • The movie concerns about a school teacher (Jane Fonda) become bandit who to avenge her father's (John Marley) death forms an outlaws' group constituted by a motley and butcher team ( Michael Callan , Tom Nardini and others). Later on , she engages a boozy gunfighter interpreted by Lee Marvin and they 'll take on the villains and nasties ( led by Reginald Denny) that have a hired gun , a murderer with an artificial nose ( also played by Marvin).

    It's a bemusing western with adjusted runtime where there are humor ,tongue-in-cheek , spoof , irony, shootouts , it is fast moving and for that reason isn't boring but funny . Lee Marvin won a deserved Oscar Academy Award for his double playing as a drunken and sympathetic cowboy and his twin , an odious and ominous killer , he is the best . The support cast is awesome , thus appears the habitual secondary from Western : J.C.Flippen , Arthur Hunnicut and Bruce Cabot . Frank de Vol (usual musician of Robert Aldrich) soundtrack is jolly and lively . Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye play splendidly two singing minstrels . The film is well directed by Elliot Silverstein , he posteriorly will attain great success with ¨A man called horse¨. Rating: Good and nice. Well worth seeing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Cat Ballou is a fun romp through the great American west. While it presents a definite "Apple Dumpling Gang" atmosphere, it still retains its gritty and resolute (...they'll never make her cry...) feeling.

    One of the best American Western comedies.

    Fonda is compelling as Catherine "Cat" Ballou, the "schoolmarm-gone-bad." Her performance in this movie is among the best performances of her career.

    Lee Marvin's acting abilities really reach out and grab you with his dual role as Kid Shelleen and brother-gone-horribly-wrong Tim Strawn. As Shelleen, you get to experience his comedic genius (this movie has a classic comedy scene that most of us never forget, featuring Marvin as Shelleen sitting on his horse, and he AND the horse are leaning drunkenly against a building), and as Tim Strawn, the tension POPS out at you.

    Michael Callan plays Clay Boone, Cat's would-be love interest. Michael Callan, also known as Mickey Calin, has done tons of movies starting with "They Came to Cordure" in 1959. In "Cat Ballou," his honest face and earnest smile captivate you right away, and his performance as Boone, holds you there. Although he's had loads of roles, most Americans will probably remember him from his stint on "One Life to Live," a popular American soap opera. (He played Jack Simmons.)

    Frankie Ballou (Cat's Father) is played extremely well by John Marley; a curmudgeonly rancher who has definite views (however odd they may be) on the true origins of the Native American.

    This movie has it all! Action, suspense, comedy and heart. It also boasts some of the greatest stars of its time: Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Dwayne Hickman, Stubby Kaye (!!) (Marvin Acme in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ellis Island *1984,* Taxi *1953,* Guys and Dolls *1955,* and Lil Abner *1959* among many more), Reginald Denny and Bruce Cabot!

    The story is narrated in song by Nat King Cole, playing professor Sam The Shade AS Nat King Cole. This movie whisks you from your seat, carries you down the river, and plunges you over the waterfall. Hang on and enjoy the ride.

    It easily rates an 8.4/10 from...

    the Fiend :.
  • This HAS to be one of Jane Fonda's favorite movies: she gets to be both shy naive ingenue and rip roaring Western leader of an outlaw gang. Her outlawing is beautifully justified as the evil town members plot to take over her father's spread and finally have him killed. All are in on the plot/take, including the sheriff, a ne'er do well planted in the job. There are many similarities to 'Silverado', an equally well acted ensemble tour de force. Whoever did Lee Marvin's drunken riding, mostly out of the saddle, close to the ground, did a superior riding job. And if it was Lee himself, more credit to him. He got the Oscar and justifiably so. Under the comedy was the message concerning the sheep-like behavior of 'respectable, middle-class people', the wicked townfolk, bankrolled by the Wolf Company (love these names). Katherine Ballou, the respectable lovely schoolmistress, goes bad as the 'nice' people show themselves to be worse than the outlaws. Hole-in-the-Wall outlaws are allowed to live there undisturbed because the scion of the Wolfe company (who is responsible for having Jane's father shot and whom Jane shoots) lets them alone. They existed safely 'under the radar', but they want to put Jane et al out, because her gang's actions make them visible. Reminds me of many Massachusetts politicians, as well as Whitey Bulger.

    The 'Indian's' comments are hilarious, expecially about Custer, spoken as he is surrounded by neatly dressed town thugs. It's an up-to-date funny tale with a social morale. You get the lesson without the moralizing. I loved it, and so glad I bought it.
  • Jane Fonda plays Cat Ballou, back in the days when she was not only acting but also accepting sexy kittenish roles, a rancher's daughter out to avenge the murder of said rancher by the bad guys who run the town. Yep, it's a sex Western, one that gives us the one-of-a-kind performances of Fonda and of Lee Marvin, who has two roles - an alcoholic gunslinger who's supposed to be Cat's saving and a mean, dastardly hit man with a prosthetic nose - and who won himself an Oscar for his delightful work. But it's not just the lighthearted performances of the actors that floats this film, it's also the riveting, uproarious script. The pace is never dull - there are some Westerns that'll slow things down to kind of add mood to a story, but not this one. This would make a nice double-bill with another of Fonda's sexy early roles, "Barbarella."
  • In the most lighthearted roles of their careers, Academy Award-winner Jane Fonda (Klute, Coming Home) and Lee Marvin (winner of the Best Actor Oscar for this performance) shine as the title character, a virtuous young schoolmarm who sets out to avenge the death of her father Frankie (played by John Marley), and as drunken sharpshooter Kid Shelleen, who agrees to help the young woman go after the killer(s). Along for the ride are Clay Boone (Michael Callan), a handsome young felon who is sheltered by Cat and falls in love with her; Jed (Dwayne Hickman), Clay's Bible-thumping uncle, and Jackson Two-Bears (Tom Nardini, who is hilarious), the Ballou's hired hand who philosophically comments on the treatment of Native Americans. Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye are enjoyable as troubadours who sing the plot of the movie as it moves along. Fonda never looked more beautiful, Marvin is a hoot (as Shelleen and his twin brother, the silver-nosed Tim Strawn), and the screenplay (by Walter Newman, Frank R. Pierson and Roy Chanslor, from his novel) is remarkable. Memorable scenes include the opening train sequence, the brawl at the square dance, the showdown between Cat and Sir Percival (played by character actor Reginald Denny) and the conclusion at the gallows. Delightful from start to finish! ***1/2 out of ****
  • Marta27 February 1999
    One of the best modern westerns made that John Wayne wasn't in. Jane Fonda is great as the schoolmarm-turned-outlaw Cat Ballou. When she begins to seek vengeance against the railroad for her father's death, you believe she's really going to get them.

    I don't have to say much about Lee Marvin's performance; it's perfect all the way. His dual role, where he plays Kid Shelleen and his evil brother, Tim Strawn, gives him the chance to really stretch his acting talents. When Marvin plays the drunken Shelleen, he's a comic delight. Even his horse looks drunk. When he plays Strawn, the screen sizzles. If you need a reason to see this movie, Lee Marvin should be the reason.

    Michael Callan is fine as Jane Fonda's love interest, and Dwayne Hickman steals the scenes he's in as Callan's "uncle"; he's really good in this film. John Marley is pretty funny, also, and Cat's father; his views on the Indian nation are revolutionary, to say the least. Tom Nardini is wonderful as the hired hand who goes along on Cat's quest, none too willingly.

    All in all, this is a tour-de-force of acting and writing. Sharp, witty, warm and action-packed, this is a film everyone should see at least once. I've seen it many times, and it's never lost its luster for me.
  • Quite a number of reviews of Cat Ballou seem centered on the theme "It didn't make me laugh" or "Lee Marvin didn't deserve Best Actor". Okay, deal with it. My dad took the whole family to the opening of Cat Ballou in a big midwestern town back in the day. We all thought it was funny, we knew it was a comedy, however the audience was not roaring with riotous laughter. That is sometimes a good sign that you are watching a satire. There was plenty of silliness and slapstick as well, and some real wild west weirdness (the sterling silver nose that Kid Strawn wears, etc.) Funny how the opening song stayed with me from 1965 on, although I don't believe I have ever seen the film from the beginning since that first time.

    It's a hangin' day in Wolf City Wyomin' Wolf City Wyomin' She killed a man it's tru-ue, And that's a why their hangin' Hangin' Cat Ballou,

    This oddball flick seemed to really say something about our view of the western film, and I think that is the one of the points that helped it win some awards.
  • I have always enjoyed the tour-de-force effort of Lee Marvin in this movie. There are a series of scenes that make it an utter delight. When the rear of the stagecoach is opened and the crumpled up gunslinger rolls out on the ground, we know it's going to be a tough ride. When they get him sobered up enough to show his skill and in a demonstration of shooting, he misses the barn. He and his horse leaning against a building, both of them apparently drunk. Kid's rendition of Happy Birthday at the funeral of Cat's father. The ongoing chorus of "The Ballad of Cat Ballou" with Stubby Kaye and Nat "King" Cole. The scene where Kid Schelleen is bathed and preened in preparation for the big showdown is a classic. It's so much fun from beginning to end. This is a feel-good movie which never needs to be taken seriously.
  • This is about the "legend" of western figures, vs. the reality.

    (Remember "Unforgiven", and the way the gunfighter has a dime

    novelist following him around?"

    The two "shouters", Stubby Kaye and Nat "King" Cole, make it very

    clear that the legend of Cat Ballou is NOT the truth: she is not, for

    example, as the ballad has it, "evil through and through".

    This commentary is given a meta-fictional air by the fact the Lee

    Marvin (who won the Oscar for the same reason that Bogart won

    for "African Queen": he played against type) is cast to play both an

    ultra Lee Marvin (Strawn) and an anti-Lee Marvin (Shelleen).

    A very clever charming film, and also way ahead of its

    dramaturgical time.
  • Cat Ballou's significance in film history is not the quality of the film itself, though it's a pretty funny piece of work. It's because it vaulted Lee Marvin up from the ranks of featured players and made him a star with an hysterical Oscar winning performance.

    It's also the only time in film history that anyone won an Oscar for a dual role. Marvin is featured as deadly contract killer, Jack Strawn and as his alcoholic brother Kid Shelleen.

    The brothers get into a range feud and opposite sides. An eastern conglomerate headed by Reginald Denny is putting the squeeze on John Marley right at the same time as his daughter Jane Fonda in the title role is coming back from eastern finishing school.

    Marley and Fonda have a hired killer strong arming them, so at the suggestion of a curious gang of friends she's developed, Michael Callan, Dwayne Hickman, and Tom Nardini, she goes and gets her own outlaw.

    Of course the dueling Marvins do have it out and I think you can guess who won.

    Sometimes it's easy to forget about some of the others in Cat Ballou because of Marvin's Oscar. Jane Fonda looks like she's having a great old time, satirizing certain themes that are sacred in Hollywood westerns. She plays her role as the budding Calamity Jane absolutely straight and lets the comedy fall around her.

    One favorite I have from the film is Hollywood veteran Reginald Denny. In the old days he was usually a rival or best friend to various leading men in the Hollywood English colony. He looks like he's having one grand old time playing the rakish Harry Percival the chief villain of Cat Ballou.

    The film is helped along with those singing narrations by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye. At one time Cole and Kaye are in a bordello and he's both singing and playing the honky tonk piano. Since Cole's velvet syrupy singing is what most remember him for, it's good to remember that in the beginning Cole was a jazz pianist and his original records were with the Nat King Cole Trio as a pianist. His singing was something added and then took over his career. Cole was one of the great and most unique voices of the last century, he left us way too soon.

    Four years later John Wayne won his Oscar for the boozy Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. What I would have loved to have seen is Wayne and Marvin playing their Oscar winning characters in a dual venture. That would have been a movie to remember.

    As is the funny and touching Cat Ballou.
  • Prim, proper and beautiful school teacher Jane Fonda (in the titled role) returns home to find that father John Marley is being threatened by some evil men in town who are looking to build a railroad through property that he refuses to sell. She sends for gunslinger Lee Marvin (in a hilarious and surprising Oscar-winning turn) to protect her father and her new friends (who have sorted pasts by the way). What she did not know is that Marvin is way past his prime and has turned into little more than an alcoholic lush. An assassin (Marvin again) with a fake nose does eventually get to Marley and now it is up to Fonda, Marvin and company to bring the men who killed her father to justice. Oh did I mention that the story is told via musical interludes by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye? "Cat Ballou" is a wild and uproarious movie that works really well due to its creative ideas. Part Western, part musical, part comedy and part drama, the movie creates a large jumble that actually works amazingly well. Marvin, easily doing the work of his career, dominates a movie that has many memorable elements to it. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Let's face facts -- Fonda was OK in this movie, but Lee Marvin was in his glory as over-the-hill gunslinger Kid Shelleen. Add to that his second role as as the noseless Tim Strawn. Toss in the matter-of-fact way the Kid reveals that he and Tim had been brothers.

    And leave us not forget my favorite scene -- the "suiting up" of the Kid prior to the ultimate showdown. It's almost like the investiture of an ancient high priest, down to the acolyte-like functioning of Jackson Two-Bears (played to perfection by Tom Nardini). Absolutely no dialogue, and set, as I recall, to music reminiscent of the Spanish corridas.

    If anyone draws up a list of Lee Marvin's best films, they'd have to be nuts to not put this in the top three. His "Best Actor" Oscar for this film was well-deserved.

    And equally high marks to whomever did the stunt work for Marvin. The antics on horseback during the last scenes, with a "drunken" Kid Shelleen in the saddle, have to be seen to be believed.

    By all means, see this movie. Be ready to cheer for the "bad guys" as they seek revenge against the "badder guys". But do NOT, under any circumstances, think for a minute that the movie as shown on TNT is complete. The last time they aired it, they actually CUT part of the above-mentioned dressing scene -- an unforgivable sin of omission, in my book. Rent (or buy) the video or DVD instead.
  • A jolly good time fer sure. Cat Ballou is a great diversion with a nice plot (revenge) and a nice cast, too--check out Lee Marvin. It even has all the essentials of a western from the town dance ending with a madcap fistfight to outlaw gunslingers and horses. Cat Ballou pokes fun at practically all of them while still keeping in mind that the real deal is Ballou's desire to avenge her father. Great fun.
  • Like beautiful women (as well as wine) CAT BALLOU has grown so much better with age.

    Jane Fonda "glows" with not only sex appeal, but with acting genius. She plays it straight as her director instructed...while Callan and Hickman play it "over the top." What a point...and counterpoint.

    What a movie.

    Lee Marvin (AND HIS HORSE) may have stolen this film, but what remains is what real movies are really about. And what is missing today.

    And the music? Well, Frank DeVol (as others back then) knew what importance music makes to EVERY great movie.

    What's wrong with today's box office? Today's movies don't even have a clue as to why CAT BALLOU was a good film. It's the same as why today people don't know how the pyramids were really built.

    I have heard that nobody wanted to make this movie, so it flew under the radar and got made just as the director and writers wanted. Hurray! The director knew how to get his movie right...and he did...and we are all so much better for it.

    Find CAT BALLOU and show it to your children and grandkids every year.

    They will love you for it!
  • "Cat Ballou" is a rarity as a film in many ways. It is side-splittingly hilarious,well-acted, anti-Establishment, borders on parody and has a storyline that belongs in a dramatic film. And it is a western comedy, another scarce category. Any account of this film must begin with its story, an unusual one as noted. Cakthrine Ballou meets several strangers on her way west, by train, to rejoin her father Frankie. Soon after her arrival, he is murdered. The authorities refuse to do anything. What happens next is, Cat Ballou and her friends, who happen to be he outlaws she had met, join with her Indian hired hand have already sent for a gunfighter--Kid Shellene who was supposed to protect her father. Falling in love with her, the Kid sobers up, dispatches, his own brother; then the gang ride off to new adventures, with the Kid drinking again because she's refused him for another of her henchman and they're wanted for having helped hasten the demise of the man who had had her father killed. Th settings and locales in the film are standard western ones, and very fine; the film is well-made without ever appearing to be "slick". So is the music by Frank de Vol and unusual songs scattered throughout. The piece's able director Elliot Silverstein has coaxed some of their best work ever from Jane Fonda as Cat, Michael Callan as her outlaw fiancée, Dwayne Hickman as a bogus preacher, John Marley as her father, Reginald Denny, J.C. Flippen and Bruce Cabot as the criminal element and Lee Marvin as the besotted gunfighter and his killer brother. There is an unusual narration, sung expertly and winningly Subby Kaye and Nat "King" Cole. The costumes by Bill Thomas are wonderful, and there is a rough-and-ready style about the work that millions have found engaging. The dialogue from a novel is well-above average also. This is a film that bears more than one viewing; it is clever, intentionally funny and quire well-constructed. Recommended to anyone who resents bullies or simply enjoys a well-earned laugh twelve. Marvin's best role, of a fine career.
  • grahamsj323 July 2003
    This film is a hilarious spoof of most of the serious oaters. Lee Marvin, who plays TWO roles, won Best Actor for this film and deserved it! This was before Jane Fonda became Hanoi Jane and I liked her back then. The plot is an oater standard - revenge for the relative (Jane's father) who'd been murdered. She hires a famous gunslinger (Marvin) to fight another gunslinger (also Marvin). This is a classic comedy and I think anyone would enjoy it!
  • CAT BALLOU (4 outta 5 stars)

    Classic western comedy... starring the young and adorable Jane Fonda before she started taking herself too seriously. She plays the innocent young Catherine Ballou, a schoolteacher turned outlaw (for a good cause... to help her daddy). She hires the legendary gunfighter Kid Shelleen to help out but is dismayed to find out that he has fallen upon hard times and become a notorious drunk. This was a one of a kind comedy performance by Lee Marvin, who won an Oscar for his role as Shelleen... and of course he steals every scene he is in... even when he doesn't have any dialogue. And then there is the funeral scene... undoubtedly the funniest funeral scene ever (if you can imagine such a thing). Great soundtrack by Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole who portray wandering folk singers who wind up singing "The Ballad of Cat Ballou" throughout the movie. "What's wrong with my eyes?" "They're bloodshot." "You oughta see 'em from MY side."
  • This movie is not meant to be anything but campy fun, and it is. If you don't get this, you don't understand satire and camp when you see it. The take-offs on older westerns (and comtemporary ones) are so obvious they slap you in the face, much like Mel Brooks "Young Frankenstein". I absolutely love both movies and watch them every time they are on. The plot, as in "Y.F." is not the point, obviously, it's the old "Over The Hill (or drunk) Gunfighter," " Revenge for My Father's Death," "I Won't Never Give Up My Land," themes that are all crammed into this romp and affectionately made fun of. I would disagree that Fonda could never act(remember "Klute"?) and I think Lee Marvin won for THIS movie, as he deserved to.
  • jcolyer12292 September 2005
    Henry Fonda's daughter, Jane, came into her own. As Cat Ballou, she stars in one of the funniest movies ever made. Westerns were no longer in vogue, and this parody found its niche. Jane is beautiful, in the prime of innocence. Dwayne Hickman adds dialogue that is still quotable. "On the run, ma'am, hidin' out in the crowd." My roommate at college saw this movie so many times, he knew the script by heart. He recited it line for line one night lying on his bed. I was amazed! He had a picture of Jane Fonda taped on the ceiling above him. I can still hear "The Ballad of Cat Ballou." "It's a hangin' day in Wolf City, Wyomin'...Wolf City, Wyomin' 1894." Lee Marvin won a Best Actor Oscar for his dual roles as Kid Shelleen and Tim Strawn.
  • mctoomey22 December 2002
    Perhaps the last time a Best Actor Oscar was awarded in a comedy role, Cat Ballou is a lot of fun and excellent escapism. Beauty, humor, gun play, and Nat King Cole all in one package. If you don't like this film, you need to seriously lighten up.
  • This movie is about great character(s) and about the tragedy of the Old West: that is, that it wore out. Lee Marvin is unforgettable in this film because he is funny and tragic at the same time, and neither aspect detracts from the other. The same theme pervades the movie; Hole in the Wall is just a hole in the wall, its characters coming to grips with the fact that they are not dangerous any more. Yet it is a fun movie, not at all a sad one. The Greek Chorus of Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole are a wonderful touch; they maintain the feeling of romance and legend that makes the movie so engrossing and prevent it from becoming melancholy. The funniest scene: Lee Marvin arriving in the farmhouse in front of funeral candles. No, I won't give it away; see it.
  • I was eleven or twelve the first time I saw Cat Ballou and I immediately fell in love with Jane Fonda. She was everything a girl was supposed to be(at least to a twelve year old):gorgeous,resourceful,gorgeous,smart,gor...well you get the idea. I was too young to really understand what women were all about,but I knew that "Cat Ballou" was everything I would ever want in a women. I loved the movie...Lee Marvin was great as he usually was. Unfortunately,Jane changed soon after this movie. She cut her hair,lost any sense of humor and became America's foremost communist sympathizer. In my memories she'll always be Cat Ballou.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    the only spoilers i am going to say are very tiny. the very beginning when the trademark lady rips off her robe and starts shooting! its priceless and i must admit that every movie i have seen since then i kind of hope to see something like that again. The cast works together like they have never been apart and i must say that if Michael Callan still looked even remotely today like he looked then, he could sneak into my berth anytime! in fact Lee Marvin was so good in this movie, i did not realize it until about the 500th time i watched it, that he was doing 2 rolls. and even Jane Fonda was good in this movie, and trust me, i saw Barbarella before Cat Balou, and i didn't think i could ever stomach her again! I could never tire of this movie!
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