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Cat Ballou
Directed by Elliot Silverstein
Written by Walter Newman
Starring Jane Fonda
Lee Marvin
Michael Callan
Dwayne Hickman
Tom Nardini
John Marley
Nat King Cole
Stubby Kaye
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) June 24, 1965
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Cat Ballou is a 1965 comedy-western film which tells the story of a woman who hires a famous gunman to protect her father's ranch, and later to avenge his murder, but finds that the man she hires is not what she expected. The movie stars Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin (in his Oscar-winning dual role), Michael Callan, Dwayne Hickman, Nat King Cole, and Stubby Kaye.

The screenplay was adapted by Walter Newman and Frank Pierson from the novel by Roy Chanslor. The film was directed by Elliot Silverstein. Chanslor's novel was a serious Western, and though it was turned into a comedy for the movie, the filmmakers retained some of the story's darker elements. The film referenced many classic westerns, most notably "Shane."

Contents

Synopsis

Catherine Ballou (Jane Fonda), an aspiring schoolteacher, is traveling by train to Wolf City, Wyoming, to visit her rancher father, Frankie Ballou (John Marley). En route she unwittingly helps accused cattle rustler Clay Boone (Michael Callan) elude his captor, the sheriff (Bruce Cabot), when Boone's Uncle Jed (Dwayne Hickman), a drunkard disguised as a preacher, distracts the lawman. She reaches the ranch to find that the Wolf City Development Corporation is trying to take the ranch away from her father, whose only defender is an educated Indian, Jackson Two-Bears (Tom Nardini). Clay and Jed appear and reluctantly offer to help Catherine. She also hires legendary gunfighter Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin) to come and help protect her father from fast-drawing Tim Strawn (also Marvin), alias Silvernose, the hired killer who is threatening Frankie.

Shelleen arrives, a drunken stumblebum who is literally unable to hit the broad side of a barn when he shoots and whose pants fall down when he draws his gun. Strawn kills Frankie, and when the townspeople refuse to bring him to justice, Catherine becomes a revenge-seeking outlaw known as Cat Ballou. She and her four gang members rob a train carrying the Wolf City payroll, and Shelleen, inspired by his love for Cat (unrequited because she loves Clay), shapes up and kills Strawn. Later he casually reveals that Strawn was his brother.

Cat poses as a lady of loose morals and confronts town boss Sir Harry Percival (Reginald Denny), owner of the Wolf City Development Corporation. A struggle ensues, Sir Harry is killed, and Cat is sentenced to be hanged on the gallows. Just after the noose is placed around her neck, Uncle Jed (again as a fake preacher) cuts the rope as she falls through the trapdoor. Her gang then spirits her away in a daring rescue.

Cast

(Cole and Kaye, billed onscreen simply as "Shouters", intermittently narrate the story through verses of "The Ballad of Cat Ballou".)

Influence

  • Cat Ballou is the favorite film of comedy directors Bobby & Peter Farrelly, as stated in The AFI 100 Years, 100 Laughs television special. The Balladeers from their film, There's Something About Mary, are inspired by the similar characters in Cat Ballou.
  • Imagery from the hanging scene of Jane Fonda was used in spoofs advocating her execution for treason following her 1972 visit to Hanoi to support the communist Vietnamese in their war against the United States (after which she has been dubbed "Hanoi Jane"). A very brief shot from that scene was also used as part of Alex DeLarge's sadistic reverie in the movie A Clockwork Orange.

Awards and honors

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Awards won

Lee Marvin won the following awards for his work in Cat Ballou:

Nominations

American Film Institute recognition

Honors

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Cat Ballou was acknowledged as the tenth best film in the western genre.[2][3]

Background

  • Nat King Cole was ill with lung cancer during the filming of Cat Ballou. A chain smoker most of his life, Cole died several months before the film was released. The ravages of the disease began to show towards the second half of the film.
  • Among many others, Kirk Douglas turned down the role of Shelleen; ironically, many years later he would play a similar double role in The Man from Snowy River. Jack Palance desperately wanted the role but was never offered it.
  • Ann-Margret was first choice for the title role but turned it down.
  • At his acceptance at the Oscars, Lee Marvin opened by saying, "Half of this Oscar belongs to a horse someplace out in the valley".
  • In the film's beginning, the Columbia Pictures "Torch Lady" did a quick-change into a cartoon Cat Ballou, who drew and fired her sixguns into the air.

Goofs

  • Kid Shelleen mistakenly sings "Happy Birthday To You" when he sees the candles on Frankie Ballou's coffin. The tune was published as a kindergarten song "Good Morning To All" in 1893 (the movie takes place in 1894), but it is doubtful the song would have spread to the Wild West within a year; but, more importantly, the "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics did not appear until 1924.
  • There is a scene later in the movie in which Lee Marvin is shooting objects thrown into the air (the second time). If one pays attention to the background, right after he shoots a stick, it is possible to see a small plane in the sky.

References

External links


Cat Ballou
File:Cat Ballou
Directed by Elliot Silverstein
Written by Walter Newman
Starring Jane Fonda
Lee Marvin
Michael Callan
Dwayne Hickman
Tom Nardini
John Marley
Nat King Cole
Stubby Kaye
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) June 24, 1965
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Cat Ballou is a 1965 comedy-western film which tells the story of a woman who hires a famous gunman to protect her father's ranch, and later to avenge his murder, but finds that the man she hires is not what she expected. The movie stars Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin (in his Oscar-winning dual role), Michael Callan, Dwayne Hickman, and singers Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye, who together perform the movie's theme song.

The screenplay was adapted by Walter Newman and Frank Pierson from the novel by Roy Chanslor. The film was directed by Elliot Silverstein. Chanslor's novel was a serious Western, and though it was turned into a comedy for the movie, the filmmakers retained some of the story's darker elements. The film referenced many classic westerns, most notably "Shane."

Contents

Synopsis

Catherine Ballou (Jane Fonda), an aspiring schoolteacher, is traveling by train to Wolf City, Wyoming, to visit her rancher father, Frankie Ballou (John Marley). En route she unwittingly helps accused cattle rustler Clay Boone (Michael Callan) elude his captor, the sheriff (Bruce Cabot), when Boone's Uncle Jed (Dwayne Hickman), a drunkard disguised as a preacher, distracts the lawman. She reaches the ranch to find that the Wolf City Development Corporation is trying to take the ranch away from her father, whose only defender is an educated Indian, Jackson Two-Bears (Tom Nardini). Clay and Jed appear and reluctantly offer to help Catherine. She also hires legendary gunfighter Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin) to come and help protect her father from fast-drawing Tim Strawn (also Marvin), alias Silvernose, the hired killer who is threatening Frankie.

Shelleen arrives, a drunken stumblebum who is literally unable to hit the broad side of a barn when he shoots and whose pants fall down when he draws his gun. Strawn kills Frankie, and when the townspeople refuse to bring him to justice, Catherine becomes a revenge-seeking outlaw known as Cat Ballou. She and her four gang members rob a train carrying the Wolf City payroll, and Shelleen, inspired by his love for Cat (unrequited because she loves Clay), shapes up and kills Strawn. Later he casually reveals that Strawn was his brother.

Cat poses as a lady of loose morals and confronts town boss Sir Harry Percival (Reginald Denny), owner of the Wolf City Development Corporation. A struggle ensues, Sir Harry is killed, and Cat is sentenced to be hanged on the gallows. Just after the noose is placed around her neck, Uncle Jed (again as a fake preacher) cuts the rope as she falls through the trapdoor. Her gang then spirits her away in a daring rescue.

Cast

(Cole and Kaye, billed onscreen simply as "Shouters", intermittently narrate the story through verses of "The Ballad of Cat Ballou".)

Influence

  • Cat Ballou is the favorite film of comedy directors Bobby & Peter Farrelly, as stated in The AFI 100 Years, 100 Laughs television special. The Balladeers from their film, There's Something About Mary, are inspired by the similar characters in Cat Ballou.
  • Imagery from the hanging scene of Jane Fonda was used in spoofs advocating her execution for treason following her 1972 visit to Hanoi to support the communist Vietnamese in their war against the United States (after which she has been dubbed "Hanoi Jane"). A very brief shot from that scene was also used as part of Alex DeLarge's sadistic reverie in the movie A Clockwork Orange.

Awards and honors

Awards won

Lee Marvin won the following awards for his work in Cat Ballou:

Nominations

American Film Institute recognition

Honors

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Cat Ballou was acknowledged as the tenth best film in the western genre.[2][3]

Background

  • Nat King Cole was ill with lung cancer during the filming of Cat Ballou. A chain smoker most of his life, Cole died several months before the film was released. The ravages of the disease began to show towards the second half of the film.
  • Among many others, Kirk Douglas turned down the role of Shelleen; ironically, many years later he would play a similar double role in The Man from Snowy River. Jack Palance desperately wanted the role but was never offered it.
  • Ann-Margret was first choice for the title role but turned it down.
  • At his acceptance at the Oscars, Lee Marvin opened by saying, "Half of this Oscar belongs to a horse someplace out in the valley".
  • In the film's beginning, the Columbia Pictures "Torch Lady" did a quick-change into a cartoon Cat Ballou, who drew and fired her sixguns into the air.

References

External links


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