Bronson the Boxer: Kid Galahad (1962) + Hard Times (1975)

September 5, 2017 | By

Once upon a time Charles Bronson appeared in an Elvis film, a pairing that seems almost impossible when the Bronson films that first come to mind are the action-revenge films of the 1980s, or the edgy & verbally minimalist dramas and suspense films of the 1970s, and yet it happened.

There’s an observation I make in my review of Kid Galahad, the sort-of musical remake of the 1937 drama about an ex-G.I. who fights in a tournament to essentially save the ass of his fiancee’s careless brother: you never see Charlie without a shirt nor in a tank top.

This is important when one considers some of Charlie’s early films, like Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), the 3D Rita Hayworth sort-of musical remake of a steamy romance-drama. Bronson plays a marine on an isolated island, and there’s plenty of shots showing the seriously buffed actor who worked in a coal mine as a kid.

If he wasn’t cast for his physique, then it was his tough guy demeanor, and by the 1970s it was, as even colleagues would say, due to his face – that ‘stone face’ from which one could read anything. It was an unlikely visage for a man that was the world’s biggest star, earning $3 million per film.

Kid Galahad, new on Blu via Twilight Time, is an Elvis film, and Elvis is great in the movie, navigating through this concept film where everyone wanted to exploit his voice and good looks, and Elvis himself wanted to essay a strong part and show he could do drama. It’s a weird hybrid, but it works, aided by a cast packed with outstanding character actors with visages and shapes & sizes that weren’t movie star ideal, but memorable, realistic, and even lovable.

Bronson plays Elvis’ coach – no revenge, no meanness, just a former champ helping new guys learn the moves to survive in the ring – but he’s also great in an antithetical role in another boxing  film made more that a decade later.  Bronson plays a fighter in what many regard as his best role, Hard Times (1975), which Twilight Time released around 2013. I’ve updated the review with contrasting info on Eureka’s British region-free Blu that sports different extras worth assessing.

Hard Times was Walter Hill’s first film as director, featured fine performances by Bronson and James Corburn, and like producer Lawrence Gordon says in Eureka’s interview, it’s a film that keeps showing up on people’s favourite lists. Whenever they see the one-sheet on his production office wall, they pause and start spouting praise for this little gem.

All deserved.

Coming next:  reviews of Showtime’s Twin Peaks: The Return (aka ‘Season 3’), Amazon’s Comrade Detective and an interview with composer Joe Kraemer, and more!



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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