Director: Burt Kennedy
Starring: Raquel Welch, Robert Culp, Christopher Lee, Ernest Borgnine
Hannie Caulder is a little-known rape/revenge flick from 1971 starring Raquel Welch. At least those are the attributes I picked up on - it's actually more of a Western with a splash of ribald humour thrown in. It also features Christopher Lee (Dracula) and Oscar-winner Ernest Borgnine, so there's definitely pedigree in the cast. Even though Westerns are not my bag, the cast and synopsis piqued my twisted sensibilities enough to give it a shot.
The film starts promisingly with a hand-drawn title sequence featuring distinctly psychedelic visuals that clue you in to the time period the film was made. I especially like the 2nd screencap below ... it would make a great poster!
Three down and dirty bandits, all brothers, are roving from town to town looking for horses to steal, banks to rob, or any other mischief they can find. It seems these guys were meant to be funny in a three stooges kind of way, but any comedic value from their performance was lost on me. They just seemed stupid, and were a weak aspect in a film otherwise blessed with some great performances.
However, they provide some nice scenic shots of cowboys and the wild west, as we follow their travels.
After killing the owner of a ranch in order to steal his horses, the boys get lucky when they find a bonus waiting for them in the homestead. Yup, its the voluptuous Hannie Caulder (Raquel Welch) in the flesh, heaving bosoms and all ... and predictably enough they have their filthy way with her.
But not before brother Rufus adds a little 'rape humour' to proceedings by announcing that he's found supper. Yup, the misogynist tone of the film places it firmly in the 70's!
To top things off they also burn her house down, leaving poor Hannie in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a blanket and a dead husband to bury. What bastards.
Luckily for her, lone bounty hunter Tom Price (Robert Culp) comes along looking for water for his horses. And although they get off to a rocky start, Hannie soon sees how he could help her get revenge on those that have wronged her, eventually persuading him to teach her how to shoot a gun.
Hannie hits the road with him, and we follow them as Hannie proceeds to hunt down the three brothers - a journey that takes them to Mexico and various saloons and brothels. We also meet lecherous townfolk, enigmatic gunslingers, and mexican bandits along the way.
Considering that Raquel Welch was one of the most famous sex symbols of the day, it's not surprising that she is given every opportunity to flaunt her looks. With her flowing mane and sculpted cheekbones, she certainly looks the part.
As a badass babe bent on revenge she is perhaps less successful, at least when judged within the context of the 'girls with guns' genre. Although she cuts a suitably striking figure gun in hand, her soft sexy voice, very feminine figure, and perfectly groomed appearance worked against her in this regard.
There is also quite the preoccupation with her ass ... both in the script and in the cinematography, making it fairly clear where the Director felt the audience appeal lay. Tom comments that its 'the prettiest one I ever saw", and the sheriff also helps himself to a grope (although she has a great comeback for the occasion).
There's even a strangely exploitative scene where a soaking wet Raquel is obliged to massage her new britches in order to get them to fit properly! Of course the camera makes sure that we watch this intimate domestic scene, as she cups and squeezes her butt cheeks into shape.
It's no wonder that Hannie laments later on "Every man I meet is thinking the same thing" - ironic really, as its probably what at least half the audience is thinking too.
Back in 1971 this must have been a fairly controversial film, featuring a multiple rape scene as it does. However you see more skin on the DVD cover than in the film itself, and the vile act concerned was mostly off-camera, as you'd expect with a major star such as Raquel Welch in the title role.
The copy I watched was not the best quality in terms of sound and picture. However, I suspect that if properly restored this could be a good-looking film. There is a new widescreen edition available in the UK which I have not seen. (Edit 24/7/2010 - And a new Region 1 DVD now too.) I have linked to them below for those that are interested.
As an exploitation flick, the film offers little - it's much too tame to be of interest in that genre. However strong performances from Robert Culp, Christopher Lee, and Raquel Welch make the film worth a watch for fans of the lead actress, or for anyone that might appreciate an exploitation-tinged Western.