Film Review – THE LAST HARD MEN (1976)

THE LAST HARD MEN (1976, USA) **½
Western
dist. Twentieth Century Fox; pr co. Twentieth Century Fox; d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Guerdon Trueblood (based on the novel “Gun Down” by Brian Garfield); pr. Walter Seltzer, Russell Thacher; ph. Duke Callaghan (DeLuxe. 35mm. Panavision. 2.35:1); m. Jerry Goldsmith; ed. Fred A. Chulack; ad. Edward C. Carfagno; rel. 23 April 1976 (USA), 18 May 1976 (UK); BBFC cert: X; r/t. 98m.
cast: Charlton Heston (Sam Burgade), James Coburn (Provo), Barbara Hershey (Susan Burgade), Christopher Mitchum (Hal Brickman), Jorge Rivero (Menendez), Michael Parks (Noel Nye), Larry Wilcox (Shelby), Thalmus Rasulala (Weed), Morgan Paull (Shiraz), John Quade (Gant), Robert Donner (Lee Roy), Sam Gilman (Dutch Vestal), James Bacon (Deputy Jetfore), Riley Hill (Gus), Dick Alexander (Bo Simpson), Yolanda Schutz (Paloma), Alberto Piña (Storekeeper), David Herrera (Indian Policeman).
Violent and often unpleasant revenge Western, which benefits from strong production values. In 1909 Arizona, Heston is a retired lawman whose life is thrown upside-down when his old enemy (Coburn) and six other convicts escape a chain-gang in the Yuma Territorial Prison and come gunning for him, kidnapping his daughter (Hershey) in the bargain. Lots of bloody action and some by-line comments on the passing of the old west without the subtlety of touch to elegantly land the message. Coburn does his best with a one-dimensional character, but Heston delivers a stiff performance as his quarry. Parks is memorable in a smaller role as the embodiment of the changing times, but Hershey has little to do with her role other than scream, fight and run.