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Welcome to Hard Times (1967)

Approved | | Drama, Western | June 1967 (Austria)
A sociopathic stranger all but destroys a small hardscrabble town but the 'mayor' convinces its survivors to stay and rebuild.


Burt Kennedy


E.L. Doctorow (novel), Burt Kennedy


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Fonda ... Mayor Will Blue
Janice Rule ... Molly Riordan
Keenan Wynn ... Zar
Janis Paige ... Adah
John Anderson ... Ezra Maple / Isaac Maple
Warren Oates ... Leo Jenks
Fay Spain ... Jessie
Edgar Buchanan ... Brown
Aldo Ray ... Man from Bodie
Denver Pyle ... Alfie - Stage Driver
Michael Shea Michael Shea ... Jimmy Fee
Arlene Golonka ... Mae
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Avery (as Lon Chaney)
Royal Dano ... John Bear
Alan Baxter ... Jack Millay


In the town of Hard Times, a stranger rides in and terrorizes the small settlement. He kills a number of townsfolk, including Fee, the town's founder. Mayor Will Blue fails to stand up to the man, who rapes saloon whore Molly and burns down the town. Blue promises to rebuild the town after the stranger rides on, but the townsfolk give up and leave. A wagon load of prostitutes led by "entrepeneur" Zar shows up and together with Blue, they rebuild the town. But Molly's desire for revenge and her anger at Blue for not protecting her eat at her, and Blue promises that things will be different when the stranger returns. And return he does. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One bullet can kill a town - just like a man! See more »


Drama | Western


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

June 1967 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Killer on a Horse See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Mayor Blu mentions he is 49 years old at one point and turning 50 at another and yet Henry Fonda was well over 60 at the time of the filming. See more »


The first time the miners visit Hard Times (in the movie) there is a scene where one of Zar's girls is dancing on a table with several miners standing around her. In a later scene (at a later date in the movie time frame) the same girl is dancing on the the table with the same men around her in the exact same order of being next to each other. See more »


Brown, Territorial Governor's Rep.: Now, you going to have a peace officer. You there!
Deputy Marshal Leo Jenks: Me?
Brown, Territorial Governor's Rep.: Yeah, you're the only one carrying a gun. You ever kill a man?
Deputy Marshal Leo Jenks: Well, yessir, I reckon I did.
Brown, Territorial Governor's Rep.: Good. Here pin that on.
[Brown gives Jenks a badge]
Brown, Territorial Governor's Rep.: You are hereby sworn a Deputy Sheriff. You salary is twenty-five dollars a year, payable next year. Now, you'll take up a collection and build a jail. If you get a serious outlaw that ain't dead, write a letter to the capital and we'll put a circuit judge on ya. So here's the town charter, the ...
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The Bridal Chorus
(Here Comes the Bride")
Composed by Richard Wagner (1850)
Played at Blossom's wedding.
See more »

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User Reviews

Acceptable but strange Western with ordinary ingredients : Western drama , fast draw , street shootout and surprise ending .
18 November 2015 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Dramatic and decent Western magnetically performed by Henry Fonda as main cast and just look at the extraordinary support casting . A town can be killed by a bullet , just like a man! . Welcome indeed to this weird Western dealing with a little town determined to become modern , there are stores as hardware , livery stable , undertaking and saloon . A sociopathic stranger (vicious as well as marvelously wicked Aldo Ray) takes advantage of the frightened townspeople and burns down the saloon , destroys the small hardscrabble village but the 'mayor' Will Blue (Henry Fonda , his role mentions he is 49 years old at one point and turning 50 at another and yet Fonda was well over 60 at the time of the filming) doesn't stand up to crazed murderous . After that , Blue convinces its survivors to stay and rebuild it . As Blue swears to rebuild the small Western town after the stranger rides on , but the townsfolk give up and abandon . Afraid for the city's future and even more afraid of the fact that the maniacal Pistolero seeks revenge , Blue , then , promises to make a new town . A wagon load of whores led by "entrepeneur" Zar (Keenan Wynn) shows up and together with Blue, and Maple (John Anderson) they rebuild the little town . All of them decide that old-style violence is the only way to rid themselves of the angry diabolic gunman . As Will has to take a last stand when the powerful gunslinger take over his town , again . What happens in the ending makes one of the most dramatic climaxes of any story you've ever seen!

This passable , meaty Western contains interesting plot , intrigue , thrills , shootouts and results to be quite entertaining , though slow moving . It is a riveting mixture of the psychological flick and the basic Western action pic . Well-paced as well as rare Western balances action , suspense and symbol-laden drama . It's a classical recounting about a veteran as well as hesitant leading citizen of the runtown of ¨Hard Times¨ who at first doesn't stand-up to ruthless killer , a peace-loving and surrounded by cowards and frightening people ; being probably one of the strangest Western of the sixties . This is an atypical but thought-provoking western with a lot of reflection , distinguished moments and dramatical attitudes , in addition a multitude of enjoyable situations . The picture profits Henry Fonda's portentous interpretation , he gives a top-drawer performance as a Mayor who fails to stand up to the gunfighter , Fonda is an awesome expert in the art of conjuring sensational , terrific acting . Originally made for television in 1966, but released to theaters instead, before being shown on TV because of its violent content . Engaging screenplay from the novel "Welcome to Hard Times" by E.L. Doctorow , author of ¨Ragtime¨ . The traditional story and exciting script was well screen-written by Burt Kennedy though clichés run through-out , the agreeable tale is enhanced for interesting moments developed among main characters and especially on the relationship between Henry Fonda and Janice Rule . The highlights of the film are the climatic showdowns , the peculiar love story among protagonists , and , of course , the final gundown . The casting is frankly nice . Here are reunited a top-notch plethora of secondary actors , most of them playing the frightened townspeople as Keenan Wynn , Janis Paige , John Anderson , Warren Oates , Fay Spain , Edgar Buchanan , Paul Fix , Denver Pyle , Lon Chaney Jr. and Royal Dano who is exactly right as Indian medicine man . Atmospheric cinematography in Technicolor is superbly caught by cameraman Harry Stradling . Thrilling as well as atmospheric musical score by Harry Suckman .

This hard Western picture was professionally directed by Burt Kennedy . He initially was screenwriter , his initial effort, ¨Seven men from now¨ (1956), was a superb western, the first of the esteemed collaboration between director Budd Boetticher and star Randolph Scott . Kennedy wrote most of that series, as well as a number of others for Batjac, although it would be nearly 20 years before Wayne actually appeared in the film of a Kennedy script . In 1960 Kennedy got his first work as a filmmaker on a western , ¨The Canadians¨ (1961) , but it was a critical failure . He turned to television where he wrote and directed episodes of "Lawman" (1958), "The Virginian " (1962) and most notably ¨Combat!"(1962) . He returned to films in 1965 with the successful ¨The Canadians¨ (1965), directing the pilot for the TV series of the same name and subsequently made ¨Support your local gunfighter¨, ¨Support you local sheriff¨ that resulted to be two of his best Western . And directed two with John Wayne : ¨Train robbers¨ and ¨The war wagon¨ , Robert Mitchum : ¨Pistolero¨ , ¨The good guys and the bad guys¨ , Frank Sinatra : ¨Dirty Dingus Magee¨ , Raquel Weich : ¨Hannie Coulder¨ and a sequel ¨Return of the magnificent seven¨ . His last films were TV products and mediocre productions such as : ¨Wild wild west revisited¨, ¨More wild wild west¨, ¨Big bad John¨, ¨Dynamite and gold¨¨ , ¨The trouble with spies¨and ¨Suburban commandos¨ . This violent Western ¨Welcome to Hard Times¨ is a Henry Fonda vehicle , if you like his particular performance ,you'll enjoy this one .

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