Three men decide to rob a bank. As they escape and make their way through the country, they stop at Caulder’s place to get fresh horses, kill him and decide to rape his wife. All three of them. Hannie buries her husband as her house burns to the ground and soon meets up with a bounty hunter whom she eventually manages to convince into training her so she might take up her revenge. So they head on down to Mexico to see a gun maker about getting Hannie fixed up, as well as some proper fitting clothes, and to begin her training. But as time goes on, things happen which neither of them expect.
A strong little revenge-western featuring an excellent cast including Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, Robert Culp, Strother Martin, Christopher Lee and even Diana Dors in a minor cameo. In the title role is Raquel Welch, all curves and beauty with a simple poncho for a costume for a good portion of the film. She is perfect in the role as a woman done wrong, looking to get even with the men who violated her. She even has a training sequence in the film with Culp which shows her transformation from mere housewife to gunslinger. And at the end of the film when she exacts her revenge, she is tough as nails and looks it too. Culp as the bounty hunter Tom Price is great as Caulder’s mentor. Even though he is a bounty hunter in the old west, he is a gentleman which gives his character an interesting juxtaposition. He and Welch have especially good chemistry onscreen and as the film moves forward it almost seems like the affection could be real. Borgnine of course, is always good and is there ever a time when Elam is not the creepy guy in the movie?
The biggest problem with this film was the fact that it made light of the abuse our protagonist, Hannie Caulder went through. If there is one time to try and lighten the situation or to go for comedy relief, it is not during a scene where a woman is getting raped. Really bad taste on the writer’s part, all four of them, and on director Burt Kennedy who also came up with the story. It is understandable to a point in the fact they were aiming for an exploitation/spaghetti western, but it would have driven the point home without that little bit of ‘comedic relief’ and still delivered the picture they wanted.
With Welch featured in the movie, it is hard not to be the slightest bit interested in it. Sure, it is an obvious reason, but it is the one most will tune in for. But in doing so, people will be surprised to find a surprisingly well done film, minus one exception, and find another reason to stay tuned. Having Christopher Lee in a supporting role as the gun maker is genius as well. If you want to lend credence to your film, hire Christopher Lee. As far as westerns go, it might not be the greatest one ever made, but it is fun and entertaining and you could do a lot worse.
4 out of 5