No one in their right mind would deny that the ultimate human was Charles Bronson, a primal force of detached anger, burning vengeance, and near-toxic levels of masculinity. But he had this thing about faces: He loved to destroy them. Across the best cinematic decades of the 20th century, Bronson ruined more faces than a busload of cross-eyed plastic surgeons on meth. Facial annihilation was Bronson’s gift and the world’s curse.
In 1975, first-time director Walter Hill (THE WARRIORS; SOUTHERN COMFORT) convinced him to set aside his signature face-wrecking firearms for plain old bare knuckles, an arguably humane move that resulted in one of the icon’s greatest — and most under-appreciated — action epics.
In the train yards and back alleys of Louisiana, a leather-skinned, unstoppable transient (Bronson, of course) makes a meager living by beating other hobos to a pulp in makeshift boxing matches. James Coburn plays his flashy manager Speed, accompanied by an incredible performance by southern legend Strother Martin as the lovably self-destructive Doc Poe. HARD TIMES is a massively entertaining, charmingly brutal exploration of mankind’s desire to triumph at the animal level.
Packed with busted lips, shattered dreams and an impossible amount of vicious, no-rules shirtlessness, this is not only one of the best movies of the 1970s, but it’s a genuine, no-bullshit, straight-up blue collar masterpiece. (Zack Carlson)
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Writer and film producer Zack Carlson joins us to present a small selection of films by one of our favorite filmmakers, Walter Hill, whose tales of bare-knuckle brawlers, swampland vengeance, and urban gang violence are imbued with a strong sense of humanity and justice.