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Jane Fonda as the outlaw Cat Ballou is good, but as a feminist icon only barely scratches the surface. The fact that she needed to be so supported by men as she avenged her father's murder speaks to another era of film-making. Lee Marvin, either sporting a metal nose as the villain, or being a kind of drunken master as Cat's hired gun gives a fun performance, though the Oscar surprises me. My favorite member of the gang is actually Jackson Two-Bears, a Native American raised by white folk who nevertheless owns his identity. This is a light western comedy, vaguely amusing rather than actually funny, with a plot and characters you want to follow, but direction that lacks the dynamism of stronger efforts. It's just kind of there, on the screen, and your pulse rate never really goes up. The exception is the inclusion of Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye as a chorus, dropping by to sing another verse of the memorable Ballad of Cat Ballou. The music is certainly a highlight. I wish the rest of the film sang half as well.
I don't like to criticize movies too much, but how is this in the AFI Top 10 westerns? along with McCabe and mrs. Miller I find it terribly overrated.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #50 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs
This movie ranks #433 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies