, 97min, OF
Arriving home from the East, Catherine Ballou discovers her father living under threat of death unless he sells his ranch to the Development Corporation. When he is killed by the silver-nosed Tim Strawn, Catherine sends for the famous Kid Sheleen, hero of the pulp novel she read on her journey home. On his arrival, Sheleen turns out to be Strawn's brother and, more significantly, a drunkard who literally can't hit a barn door at twenty paces. But when all seems lost, Kid, like the heroes of old, shows himself able to regenerate himself and kill his brother while Cat and company prove themselves more plucky than they imagine.
What makes Cat Ballou such a success is Marvin's Oscar-winning performance as the saviour in filthy red underpants. The film is at its best when Jack Marta's camera simply watches Marvin, drunkenly seeking support from a horse that seems as drunk as he is. It wasn't the first comedy Western by any means, but its success - it grossed some 20 million dollars worldwide - revived the subgenre. In a witty linking device Nat King Cole (whose last screen appearance this is) and Stubby Kaye sing «The Ballad of Cat Ballou». (Phil Hardy)