Take a Hard Ride (1975)

Jim Brown, Lee Van Cleef, Fred Williamson, Catherine Spaak
Rugged trail boss and reformed criminal Pike promises his honest wealthy employer Morgan that he will venture across the dessert to deliver $86,000 dollars in payroll money to a ranch in ...
  • Anchor Bay Entertainment Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 29 Oct 1975 Released:
  • 17 Jan 2006 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Eric Bercovici (screenplay), Jerrold L. Ludwig (sc Writer:
  • Antonio Margheriti Director:
  • N/A Website:


Easy to take in the right frame of mind6/10
A western, shot in Spain, with a twist: Jim Brown and Fred Williamson, folks not normally associated with Euro-made westerns, take it upon themselves to deliver a large payroll to a ranch in Sonora, Mexico, after the ranch owner (Dana Andrews) dies while on the road. Everybody who hears of this -- and I mean everybody -- goes after them. This includes the local sheriff (Barry Sullivan), an army of drifters and gunhands, and bounty hunter Lee Van Cleef, who recognizes Brown as a wanted man from years before. Brown is given minimal dialog, which is a good thing as he is not exactly an actor. Williamson fares better as a breezy card sharp in fancy duds, who carries most of the dialog for the two of them. Not bad. The music, clearly derived from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, is better than the movie.
Three Plus Lee should have equaled more.4/10

Coming near the end of the spaghetti western cycle, this one should have worked out better. While some of the action scenes are good, others fail with a thud, and none of the solid stars are given any material to distinguish themselves.

Overall, Jim Brown fared a bit better in westerns than Williamson, who made a few more; this was Kelly's sole venture into the genre. And with Van Cleef around, one wishes that one of the better directors (Leone, Sollima) who guided his top efforts was on hand to spark this one. A disappointment; couldn't be a total loss with that cast, but they deserve better.
With this cast, it can't miss (completely).7/10

This predictable and formulaic Western will not blow you away with its brilliance, but it IS fun, carried along almost entirely by the strong presences of its top stars. Only Jim Kelly and his karate moves feel out of place. And it also must be mentioned that the big moment that you all (?) have been waiting for, a fight between Jim Brown and Fred Williamson, does arrive in this film....but the scene is terribly unrealistic-looking. (**1/2)
Take a Hard Ride7/10
Rousing old school western(..not a spaghetti western, as you'd might be led to believe, but more closer to the Hollywood classics) which has two charismatic black stars(..former football players Jim Brown and Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson) as the heroes, from prolific Italian director Antonio Margheriti. Brown is a reformed criminal named Pike who is asked by his dying employer to take their hard-earned cattle money to his home town of Sonora. Carrying $86,000 in loot obviously makes you a marked man, but Pike gains an ally in flashy gambler Tyree(Williamson)who is eyeballing the cash, agreeing to help him get most of the way to Sonora..but Tyree vows to battle for the loot once they come to the half-way point. Meanwhile, a pipe-smoking, quick-drawing bounty hunter, Kiefer(Lee Van Cleef, wearing longer hair than usual)remembers Pike's past and plans to arrest him, also quite interested in attaining his money. Understanding Pike's skills as a gunfighter, when he has to be, and knowing the talents of Tyree, Kiefer will enlist the aid of cutthroats and other hired guns in order to complete his mission. But, no matter the number of hired goons he adds to his entourage, Kiefer knows that his target will not be easy to retrieve. Along the way, Pike picks up a New Orleans whore, Catherine(Catherine Spaak)whose kind husband was butchered by a mob of nasty cowboys and a high-kicking Negro(..raised by Indians), Kashtok(Jim Kelly, whose martial arts skills are well utilized in the film as he often subdues his foes by dropping them before they can even draw their weapons)who doesn't ride a horse, opting to travel on foot instead.

Lots of shootouts and stunning action set pieces, well photographed by Riccardo Pallottini using the location of Spain's Canary Islands to great effect. Terrific suspense sequence as our heroes must cross a bridge before others catch up to them. Brown and Williamson make an entertaining duo, their being African-American adding a unique spin to what is otherwise a familiar formula western..the idea of getting cash to another place avoiding gunfighters who wish to steal it is nothing new(..hell, Peckinpah's RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY is an example). Brown has never been as humane and considerate an on screen character, checking his ego at the door, allowing Williamson the opportunity to show off his pearly whites, playing the flamboyant, sharply dressed swindler who always has us questioning whether or not he can be trusted. Williamson lays on the charm and steals his scenes with Brown willing to be the straight man of the team. Lee Van Cleef doesn't stretch his persona..he's still a highly skilled sharpshooter with expertise and knowledge in the field of bounty hunting. When others do not heed his warning, they wind up dead. While he's a man of principle, he's not above aligning himself with nefarious characters if the odds are not in his favor. Dana Andrews appears in a cameo as Brown's boss who dies before he can enjoy the fruits of his labor, a welcome presence who earns our respect and admiration in minutes compared to many who fail to do so in a movie length's time. Classy Jerry Goldsmith score, and well orchestrated gun battles, shot with an epic scope and grandeur. I think director Antonio Margheriti is able to rise above the so-so material thanks to his cast and smooth style(..his trademark zooms which close in on the faces of his actors are on display). This was a big role for Jim Brown with Williamson complimenting him nicely. Throw in Lee Van Cleef, who has such a fascinating face, and you have a western worthy of pursuit.
Okay, but could have been better5/10

One of the last spaghetti westerns (though really, there was a good amount of American talent in front of and behind the camera), it does definitely have some novelty value - the cast, some good Canary Island scenery, a quick pace, and some good action sequences (best being the gunfight in the canyon). Still, there was clearly a bunch of potential wasted.

Brown is good, Williamson does okay, but the rest of the cast isn't actually given that much to do. Kelly's character could easily be written out, and Van Cleef's bad guy character isn't fully developed (for one thing, the movie doesn't seem to know what to do with him at the end.) And the script really isn't that much - it more or less consists of either the protagonists riding through the desert, or engaged in action.

Die-hard western fans (especially those who like spaghetti westerns) will probably find enough to enjoy about it, but this certainly won't convert anyone who normally avoids this genre.