Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Take A Hard Ride

TAKE A HARD RIDE is an interesting melding of the blaxploitation and spaghetti western genres and the most “Hollywood” film of Italian director Antonio Margheriti’s long career.

Shot in the Canary Islands of Spain, TAKE A HARD RIDE assembles a great cast of aging Hollywood veterans and exciting young black movie stars to perform a script by HAWAII FIVE-0 writers Eric Bercovici and Jerry Ludwig for release by 20th Century Fox. The title was probably chosen to remind the audience of the previous year’s THREE THE HARD WAY, the first film to team Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, and Jim Kelly.

Even with Margheriti and an Italian cinematographer behind the camera and composer Jerry Goldsmith delivering one of his experimental discordant scores, TAKE A HARD RIDE looks like a typical American western of the era. Honest cowboy Pike (Brown) gives his word to a dying rancher (Dana Andrews in a “guest appearance”) that he’ll deliver $86,000 to the old man’s family in Mexico. Pike’s journey is the worst-kept secret in the west with every nasty jasper and owlhoot in the desert out to hijack the money.

One is Tyree (Williamson), a sharp-dressed card sharp who offers to accompany Pike as far as the border, at which point all bets are off. Many more join the party. Some good, such as widow Catherine (Catherine Spaak) and mute kung fu Indian Kashtok (Kelly), but mostly mean, like bent sheriff Kane (Barry Sullivan), thugs Skave (Robert Donner) and Dumper (Harry Carey Jr.), and especially hawk-nosed bounty hunter Kiefer (Lee Van Cleef), who follows the party at a distance, waiting for the right time to pounce.

I wish I could report that TAKE A HARD RIDE is as entertaining as its cast, but I can’t. Making Kelly’s character a mute, leaving him unable to interact with his co-stars, removes some of the camaraderie among the three leads. Margheriti has a fine eye for desert action scenes, knowing just where to place the camera to take best advantage of the Canary Islands’ beautiful rocks and sand, but the non-action scenes can be a bit of a slog. Williamson later hired Brown and Kelly (and Richard Roundtree) to act with him in the unofficial THREE THE HARD WAY sequel ONE DOWN TWO TO GO.

1 comment:

Rod Barnett said...

Gotta admit - I like this one much more than you!