HANNIE CAULDER. Tigon British Film Productions, UK, 1971. Paramount Pictures, US, 1972. Raquel Welch, Robert Culp, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Christopher Lee, Diana Dors. Director: Burt Kennedy.

   Hannie Caulder is the type of movie that could only have been made in the 1970s, a time of comparably anarchic freedom for directors, producers, and screenwriters. Take a few well known characters actors and cast them as buffoonish rapists, add a strong willed feminist protagonist to be portrayed by a leading sex symbol, and then cast Robert Culp and Christopher Lee as a bounty hunter and a gunsmith, respectively, and you’ve got yourself a Western cult classic in the making.

   But wait, there’s more. While a Spaghetti Western aesthetic, replete with notably fake red blood, gives the film a gritty edge, a mysterious character, a gunslinger dressed from head to toe in black, adds a quasi-mystical element to the proceedings.

   Raquel Welch stars as the film’s title character, a woman who is savagely raped and beaten by three outlaw brothers portrayed by Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, and Strother Martin. After that experience, Hannie Caulder sets out on a course of revenge against the men who attacked her and murdered her husband.

   Soon enough, she comes under the tutelage of bounty hunter Thomas Luther Price (Culp), a solitary man who – not surprisingly – begins to develop romantic feelings toward Hannie. Price is a man torn. On the one hand, he’s willing to teach Hannie the art of gun fighting; on the other, he doesn’t want Hannie to become a killer like he is.

   All told, Hannie Caulder is a solid revenge Western. Look for Christopher Lee in his portrayal of Bailey, a boutique gunsmith camped out in Mexico. The interactions between his character and Price and Hannie Caulder are among the best in this truly unique Burt Kennedy film. It may not be among the best Westerns ever filmed, but it’s certainly a spunky little 1970s meditation on violence that isn’t easily forgotten.