Long before Unforgiven deconstructed the Western, or Blazing Saddles lampooned it, Cat Ballou poked the genre in the eye. An altogether enjoyable comedy, the film is full of small surprises, big laughs, and wonderful character turns. Catherine Ballou (Jane Fonda) is a schoolteacher until a hired thug kills her daddy. To protect what she loves, she collects two petty criminals, a wisecracking hired hand, and a hired killer, Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin). Unfortunately, Shelleen is a raging drunk who is so inebriated and unsteady with a gun he literally misses the broad side of a barn. However, Cat, has, as they used to say in those days, a mind of her own, and she masterminds a spectacular train heist that puts them all on the lam. Marvin won an Academy Award for his role as the derelict Shelleen, and his performances (he actually has two) are still topnotch and on target. The framing device, two wandering minstrels, played by Stubby Kaye and Nat "King" Cole, are the maraschino cherries on the top of this Wild West confection. --Keith Simanton
Yeah, it's all over in Dodge, Tombstone, too, Cheyenne, Deadwood, all gone, all dead and gone. Why, the last time I came through Tombstone, the big excitement there was about the new rollerskate rink that they had laid out over the O.K. Corral. I'll tell you something else, I used to work for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and a Congress of Rough Riders. And I rescued many stagecoach passengers from road agents and drunkard injuns... in the nick of time! Twice a day, three times on Saturday.