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George At 

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Cat Ballou


With very fond memories of 1965's CAT BALLOU being one of my Dad's favorite films, I sat down for some nostalgia from this comedy/western.

Jane Fonda is beautiful and funny as Cat, a western school teacher trying to help her father Frankie (John Marley from "The Godfather", having better luck with horses here than he did in that film) protect his ranch from a crooked company trying to steal his land.

Cat meets Clay and his "uncle" Jed and they join the Ballou's on their ranch as protection, but the real help arrives with infamous gunslinger Kid Shelleen.

Lee Marvin is perfect as Shelleen, a drunken shell of the great gunman he used to be. After a few shots of bourbon though, the skills come back with a vengance. It's a fine line of course, as one more drink turns him right back into a fall down drunk. Lee Marvin won an Oscar for his performance as Shelleen, as well as a ruthless hired gun named Strawn that works for the bad guys. His nose shot off in a battle, Strawn wears a big silver nose guard instead. In either role, Marvin brings the goods, winning an Oscar for Best Actor.

Two singing balladeers pop in and out of the story, narrating the tale from beginning to end. Luckily for us, they are played by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye, hugely successful sixties entertainers that bring plenty of old fashioned fun to the proceedings.

With a big dance that turns into a brawl, a wild showdown in the main dirt streets of the town and plenty of horses blazing across the landscapes, it's a traditional western with a light touch and plenty of laughs.

Fonda carries the film on her back effortlessly, believable as a school teacher and an outlaw in her quest for revenge.

My Dad loved physical comedy. Between this and his love for Benny Hill, you get exactly what tweaked his sense of humor.

It's with terrific memories of watching this film numerous times with him that CAT gets a nostalgic, enjoyable and very old-fashioned B.

Marvin is worth the price of admission, stealing every scene he's in. It grossed over $20 million back in 1965, so plenty of people bought that ticket again and again!

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