June 7, 2024

CAT BALLOU: Nostalgia Speaks Volumes

CAT BALLOU (Blu-ray)
1965 / 96 min
Available at www.MovieZyng.com
Review by Mr. Paws😼

Prior to reviewing this Blu-ray, I hadn’t seen Cat Ballou since I was a kid. That was a couple millennia ago, so I didn’t remember much about it, but do recall thinking it was really damn funny, especially the scenes of a drunken Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin) struggling to stay on his horse as it gallops through town.

Of course, a lot of things are really damn funny when you’re young…and they’re really damn funny over and over again, like when you first hear "The Diarrhea Song," which inspires you and your friends/siblings to come up with verses of your own. My own kids had themselves in stitches when carrying on that tradition themselves, which gave me nostalgic warm fuzzies.

Warm fuzzies mean a lot when revisiting relics of our childhood. While I can’t speak for others who continue to hold Cat Ballou in high regard, most of my enjoyment of rewatching it today stems from the good memories of catching the film whenever it popped up on Portland’s local independent TV station back in the day (on an old hand-me-down black & white set my parents bestowed upon me after replacing it with a shiny new Magnavox).

Kid Shelleen participates in a hold up.
I didn’t laugh much, never finding Shelleen as hilarious as I used to (and no way should Marvin have won an Oscar for it). But while not quite the wild & woolly western I remembered, there remains a laid-back tone & charm to Cat Ballou that’s quite agreeable. This time around, I especially enjoyed Michael Callan’s performance as easygoing outlaw, Clay Boone, as well as the fourth-wall-breaking musical asides by Nat King Cole & Stubby Kaye. With hindsight, it’s also interesting seeing Jane Fonda as the star of such a farcical film, essentially playing straight-man to the rest of the cast.

As western spoofs go, Cat Ballou never approaches the hilarity of Support Your Local Sheriff! or the subversive cleverness of Blazing Saddles, both of which have aged far better. However, the good vibes throughout the film are still kind of infectious, especially if they evoke fond childhood memories.


FEATURETTE - The Legend of Cat Ballou is a 12 minute interview with director Elliot Silverstein.

2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) By actors Dwayne Hickman & Michael Callan; 2) By film historians Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer & Paul Scrabo.


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