Westerns have always been my favorite movies ever since I started watching John Wayne movies and Fess Parker as Davy Crockett. While I've tried to see as many as I can, one type of westerns has never appealed to me; comedy westerns. Sure, there are exceptions, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Blazing Saddles come to mind, but mostly I enjoy serious/dark westerns with some humor laced throughout the movie.
Thanks to Turner Classic Movies though, I can add another likable comedy western to my list, 1965's Cat Ballou starring a pre-"Hanoi Jane" Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. The genre was a-struggling mightily by the mid 60s and this was before Leone's Dollars trilogy so Cat Ballou wasn't your typical shoot 'em up western. Fonda is Catherine "Cat Ballou, a young schoolteacher who turns to crime to get revenge for her father's death.
Reading that, you'd think it was a pretty dark western, but it's pretty much just the opposite thanks to two great parts by the same actor, Lee Marvin. Pretty much relegated to supporting parts and TV guest spots, Marvin got his big chance here in dual roles as Kid Sheleen, a drunken gunfighter past his prime, and Tim Strawn, a vicious killer who murdered Cat's father.
Here's Kid Shelleen's introduction
It was a part that earned Marvin his one and only Oscar nomination and win. His performance alone is worth the price of admission. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Jane Fonda was pretty easy on the eyes, and her role as Cat Ballou is one of her best. Cat Ballou caught me off-guard, but I can highly recommend it.
Lee Marvin ****/****
Cat Ballou ***/****