The catalyst for the film “Hannie Caulder” is a bank robbery which takes place in a small Mexican village. The robbery is being committed by the thieving, raping, violent, and often times buffoonish Clemens brothers: Emmett portrayed by Oscar winning actor, Ernest Borgnine (Marty); Frank played by character actor Jack Elam (Rio Lobo); and Rufus acted by Golden Globe nominee, Strother Martin (Cool Hand Luke). The job isn’t a success, as one of the tellers manages to sound the alarm, alerting local law enforcement, who are stationed nearby. A shootout ensues, in which Frank is wounded, however, the Clemens brothers manage to escape.
While on the run, they come across a horse watering station where the brothers are about to steal fresh horses. Before they can do so, Jim Caluder, the operator of the station, arrives toting a shotgun, telling them they can get water for their horses, but that’s it. The response Rufus has to Jim’s statement is to kill him. Afterward, Rufus goes into Jim’s house and finds Caulder’s very attractive wife, Hannie, who is played by Golden Globe winner, Raquel Welch (The Three Musketeers). The wheels in his depraved mind begin turning, and he calls out to his two brothers to join him inside. Thereafter, the three take turns raping her. When they are through with their despicable actions, the brothers set fire to the Caulder’s house, and leave Hannie to die. Unbeknownst to them, she manages to get out of the house right before it is consumed by flames. The only thing left to her is a blanket, which she fashions into a poncho, and the pair of underwear she is wearing underneath it.
A short while after the horrific encounter with the Clemens, Hannie comes across a smart, and proficient, bounty hunter, Thomas Luther Price, who is played by Golden Globe and Emmy nominee, Robert Culp (I Spy). Not wanting recent history to repeat itself, she knocks Price unconscious. Hannie feels bad, however, for what she’s done, and waits for him to wake up. Additionally, she spots the body Price has slung across the back of his horse. Hannie asks him for help in exacting revenge against the Clemens brothers. He refuses her outright, and before leaving on his journey to collect the reward on his latest bounty, all he gives her is a hat to protect herself from the sun, and a canteen to drink from.
Hannie is not going to go away quietly; she follows Price, wherever he goes. He, however, remains steadfast in his choice of refusing to train her. One night, while she is sleeping, Hannie wakes up screaming from a dream about what the Clemens brothers did to her. Price feels empathy for Hannie, and comes to the realization that she has a justifiable reason for revenge, and that if he doesn’t train her, she most certainly will get herself killed.
After stopping off in the next town they come to, so Hannie can get some proper clothing, they head off to see Price’s friend Bailey, who is portrayed by BAFTA winner Christopher Lee (The Wicker Man). He is a gunsmith living in a villa on a Mexican beach with his wife and children. Price wants Bailey to construct a gun for Hannie; meanwhile, as Bailey is fashioning Hannie’s weapon, the bounty hunter has her perform exercises in order to build up her strength. Price’s instruction goes beyond just the physical. He wants Hannie to be mentally prepared for the fact that even if she succeeds in carrying out her vengeance, by winning, she will still lose, because killing changes a person. Price would prefer it if Hannie didn’t give in to her desire to kill, but to opt instead to abandon her plans, but that is something he knows she can’t do. In addition to a group of bandits, who attack the villa, while she and Price are staying there, Hannie also meets a mysterious gunfighter, known only as The Preacher, who is played by Golden Globe winner, Stephen Boyd (Ben-Hur). (As an aside: Hannie Caulder was the only western Christopher Lee ever appeared in during his lengthy career).
Does Hannie succeed in getting her revenge against the Clemens brothers? Does she die trying to carry out her plans? Will she abandon her lust for vengeance as Price wants her to? Who is the mysterious preacher? How does he fit into the overall story?
The film was directed by Burt Kennedy (Support Your Local Sheriff). Kennedy along with David Haft, co-wrote the script under the pseudonym Z.X. Jones based on a story written by Peter Cooper. In addition, the film lists character creation credits for Ian Quicke and Bob Richards. Parts crime, drama, and western, the movie premiered in London on November 8, 1971. In general, I felt the film was passable entertainment for one time viewing, at least for me. It is not something I think I’ll be interested in re-watching.