Cat Ballou

Frank Pierson in Person

Quite the kitten herself, Jane Fonda plays Cat Ballou, prim schoolmarm turned vengeful outlaw, in this lusty send-up of the all-American Western. When Cat finds her father's Wyoming ranch confiscated by unscrupulous developers, she teams up with some ne'er-do-well desperadoes, including alky gunslinger Kid Shelleen, two clumsy cattle rustlers, and a sardonic Sioux ranchhand, to teach the land-grabbers the Three Rs: Robbin', Rollickin', and Revenge. Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye wander through the high jinks like a jocular cowboy chorus singing “The Ballad of Cat Ballou.” But it is Lee Marvin as Kid Shelleen and his twin brother Strawn, a cold-blooded killer with a prosthetic nose, who really lassoes the laughs. Whether he's singing “Happy Birthday” over the coffin of Cat's father, or so soused he can't hit the broad side of a barn, Marvin (in an Oscar-winning performance) saddles us with stumble-drunk delight. Cat Ballou is all slapstick leather with potshots that never miss their mark.

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