WELCOME TO HARD TIMES (KILLER ON A HORSE) (director/writer: Burt Kennedy; screenwriter: book by E.L. Doctrow cinematographer: Harry Stradling Jr.; editor: Aaron Stell; music:  Harry Sukman; cast: Henry Fonda (Mayor Will Blue), Aldo Ray (Man from Bodie), Fay Spain (Jessie), Janice Rule (Molly Riordan), Warren Oates (Deputy Marshal Leo Jenks), Keenan Wynn (Zar), Lon Chaney Jr. (Avery), John Anderson (Ezra/Isaac Maple), Janis Paige (Adah), Edgar Buchanan (Brown), Elisha Cook Jr. (Hanson), Paul Fix (Major Munn), Royal Dano (John Bear), Denver Pyle (Alfie - Stage Driver); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Max Youngstein/David Carr; MGM; 1967)

"Bleak symbolic western."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A bleak symbolic western written and ineptly helmed by veteran western filmmaker Burt Kennedy ("Hannie Caulder"/"The Rounders"/"Support Your Local Gunfighter"). It's based on a minor novel by E.L. Doctrow.

It's set in the run-down hardscrabble western town of Hard Times. A cowardly mayor (Henry Fonda) runs things by avoiding trouble even if an evil sociopathic stranger, The Man from Brodie (Aldo Ray), does what he pleases, which includes murder. Before Ray is through with the town he burns it down. After the town is rebuilt by the citizens, Ray return and starts to carry on as before. But the strong-willed prairie lady, with a heavy Irish accent, played by Janice Rule, after a year of nagging, forces the reluctant mayor to get off his butt and put a bloody stop to the nonsense.

Pic feels as empty as the lessons it dishes out. The only thing I felt about the unconvincing movie was depressed and how implausible it was.

REVIEWED ON 10/2/2015       GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"