Cat Ballou

Synopsis: “A lark from beginningito end.” -NEW YORKER

The sleeper hit of 1965, Cat Ballou was declared an instant classic when its sly blend of Western parody and rapid-fire action hit the screen.

Lee Marvin won an Oscar for Best Actor for his dual role as noseless (“it got bit off in a fight”) gunslinger Tim Strawn and as Kid Shelleen, the woozy, boozy has been who goes up against him. Jane Fonda co-stars as Catherine “Cat” Ballou, the schoolmarm-turned-outlaw who teams up with Kid. Singer Nat King Cole and comedian Stubby Kaye also appear, singing the title song, “The Ballad of Cat Ballou.”

This wild and wooly adventure is “the ultimate American spoof of the American Western.” (Judith Crist)
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Cat Ballou 5.0

When I first saw this film a few years ago, during a Jane Fonda marathon, I was left relatively indifferent by this film. I chalked it up to having been exhausted that night – so much so that I nodded off and missed large chunks of the finale. mad0071 Free Emoticons   Anger

However, now that I’ve revisited this purported classic, I am of the opinion that my lack of appreciation had nothing to do with fatigue. While I didn’t fall asleep out of boredom, it certainly wasn’t enough to keep my attention going for 90 mins. indifferent0004 Free Emoticons   Indifferent

I don’t know if you’ve seen pre-’60s westerns and/or musicals and/or comedies, but ‘Cat Ballou’ is a western/musical/comedy hybrid fashioned in an old school mould. Westerns and musicals are two genres that I have a terrible time with: the former frequently bores me, and the latter makes me want to beat my TV to bits with my DVD player. sick0002 Free Sick Emoticons

So it goes without saying that ‘Cat Ballou’ gave me no pleasure whatsoever. The humour was lame and the story was risible. The tunes were tolerable, thank goodness, because they were performed by Nat King Cole and served to deliver a story that the script couldn’t even be bothered with. rolleye0015 Free Emoticons   Rolling Eyes

Not even the acting impressed me: Jane Fonda was only getting her acting chops together, and the rest were mostly forgettable. As for Lee Marvin, who won an Oscar for his drunk gunslinger bit… well, I wonder what the Academy was smoking! mad0071 Free Emoticons   Anger His performance is so full of ham, it makes you hungry for a big breakfast. rolleye0015 Free Emoticons   Rolling Eyes

And yet, having said this, I recognize how, perhaps upon its release in 1965, ‘Ballou’ may have been considered a riot by an older generation weaned on a totally different brand of entertainment. Essentially, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone younger than 60 years of age, even as I accept that it works contextually. indifferent0004 Free Emoticons   Indifferent

It’s alright for what it is, but ‘Cat Ballou’ is simply not my cup of tea (that is, the film, not the character – who, as portrayed by the ever-delicious Fonda, was the only thing worth the bother winking0002 Free Emoticons   Winking). I can’t even think of a context in which I could find it in my heart to watch it again.

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