Welcome to Hard Times (1967)

“We’ve got a well and a cemetery; that’s a beginning.”

When a rogue gunman (Aldo Ray) terrorizes the settlement of Hard Times, a local Irish woman (Janice Rule) mocks Mayor Will Blue (Henry Fonda) for his cowardice. Meanwhile, a wagonful of prostitutes (led by Keenan Wynn) sets up a thriving business.


This disappointing western by director Burt Kennedy — perhaps best known for helming Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) — is a bust on every count. The dialogue is lame (“You’re a fool, Blue; you always were a fool”), the acting is almost uniformly poor (Rule’s accent is particularly awful), and the screenplay — based on a novel by E.L. Doctorow — is full of cliches, including a token Asian prostitute (Kalen Liu) who never speaks. It’s not clear to me why Peary lists this clunker in the back of his book.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Warren Oates’ somewhat lively performance as “Deputy Jenks”

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