Nobody steals from Brandt Ruger and lives. With a stellar cast led by Oscar¬(r) winner* Gene Hackman (Unforgiven), Emmy¬(r) winner Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown") and Oliver Reed (Gladiator), this searing western fires rou... more »nd after round of emotional heat with a torrid frontier love triangle that can only lead to revenge. To cattle baron Brandt Ruger (Hackman), his beautiful wife Melissa (Bergen) is just one of his possessions. So when notorious bandit Frank Calder (Reed) kidnaps Melissa, Ruger isn't concerned about herhe's enraged that someone stole from him. Melissa finds her captor quite kind, but Ruger is organizing a posse to hunt down the pairand recover his property dead or alive!« less
"The Hunting Party is definitely a western for the Wild Bunch-loving, blood in buckets kind of crowd. It's not a badly made film at all, but it is one that requires a strong stomach.
Gene Hackman, in a tour-de force villainous role, is a sadistic wealthy townowner who treats his young wife, played by Candace Bergen, like any other possession. Our first scene of them shows his violently sadistic side toward women, and as we find out later, he doesn't treat men any better.
Oliver Reed plays a notorious outlaw who kidnaps Bergen from a schoolhouse so she can teach him to reach. Hackman gets word of this while on a hunting retreat with fellow wealthy friends, and enlists their aid in retrieving his wife and taking revenge on the outlaw, Hackman and his group are armed with the newest kind of rifle, long range with telescopic sights. Much mayhem and bloodshed ensues.
Everyone acts superbly in this film. Hackman plays one of the nastiest villains ever to grace motion pictures. Bergen, while a tough cookie, has to endure lost of attacks, and Reed loses his English accent and plays effectively the part of a tough but sympathetic outlaw. This is one of the classic, cynical late sixties, early seventies (1971) westerns that has more sad and melancholy scenes than happy ones. But it is an darkly entertaining film."
A hunting party
J. sutherland | richmond, VA United States | 06/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"i saw this movie about 34 years ago in a very smokey car at a drive-in. the movie always stuck out in my mind, so it was great to see it available on dvd. it was even better than i remember..... . still a great western, candice bergen much hotter than murphy brown. gene hackman is meaner than in THE UNFORGIVEN. i am planning a hunting party with some of my old pals that appreciate the ultra violent westerns of the 1970s. now can anybody tell me where i can get an ULZANA'S RAID dvd that does'nt cost no stinkin 70 dollars?"
"First time, he forced her........"
Jerry Fry | Freeman, MO USA | 12/21/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Candice Bergen (Melissa Ruger) is a school teacher married to Brandt Ruger (Hackman). Brandt, a wealthy, powerful cattle man is incensed when he gets word of his wife's abduction at the hands of Frank Calder (Reed) and his outlaw gang. Frank intends her no harm though, he just wants her to tutor him so he can learn to read and write. Meanwhile, Hackman hears of the kidnapping while on a train to a hunting trip with 5 of his cohorts (two of them being G.D. Spradlin and Simon Oakland). He decides to change it to a manhunt. With powerful, long range rifles that can shoot accurately past 700 yards he and his buddies will pick off these outlaws. They leave the train on horseback and track the gang down. With scopes in place they start shooting from so far away the gang can't even see them. Spradlin is having a great time shooting men in cold blood until they sneak up on the snipers and shoot back. One of Hackman's party is killed and Spradlin decides he doesn't want to shoot at someone who's shooting back and leaves. Hackman won't quit though. He's had Frank in his sights more than once but wants to save him for last. Melissa falls for Frank. Hackman was worthless as a husband anyway. From the beginning it's hard to understand why she ever married the louse. Hackman and his fellow snipers are more like the bad guys than the outlaw gang. Lots of blood and violence, sadistic at times."
A Shakespearean Tragedy With A Western Setting
J. B. Hoyos | Chesapeake, VA | 04/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by Don Medford, "The Hunting Party" is a great Spaghetti Western. In fact, everything about this Western is great. It has a superb cast headlined by Oliver Reed whose career spans from Hammer Production's classic "Curse of the Werewolf" to Dan Curtis' "Burnt Offerings" to the modern "Gladiator." Reed is an illiterate thief, Frank Calder, who kidnaps the gorgeous blonde schoolteacher Melissa (Candice Bergen of "Murphy Brown) and orders her to teach him to read. She is smitten by his rough, rugged exterior and tender, caring heart. Soon the two are falling in love.
Unfortunately for Calder and his gang of outlaws, Melissa is the wife of wealthy cattle baron, Brandt Ruger (Gene Hackman). He is a perverse man who views all women, including Melissa, as pieces of property to use and abuse at will. (It is difficult to believe that, one year later, Hackman portrayed the self sacrificing Reverend Scott of "The Poseidon Adventure.") Using new, technologically advanced rifles, Brandt and his wealthy cohorts relentlessly and sadistically hunt Calder and his buddies.
"The Hunting Party" is an ultra-violent, realistically gory Western with lush photography and a beautiful soundtrack provided by the legendary Riz Ortolani. Ortolani scored many of my beloved Italian gialli such as Lucio Fulci's "Perversion Story," Armando Crispino's "The Dead Are Alive" and Flavio Mogherini's "The Pyjama Girl Case." There is also a great supporting cast that includes Simon Oakland of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" and Mitchell Ryan of "Dark Shadows." Both series were directed by the legendary Dan Curtis.
The ending of "The Hunting Party" is very tragic and depressing. The entire film, with its extreme pathos, reminded me of a Shakespearean tragedy. The characters are expertly drawn and believable. If you are a fan of violent, gritty Western classics (especially Spaghetti Westerns), then I strongly recommend that you go hunting for "The Hunting Party." Sadly, at the time of this review, it was listed as being out of print. "
Run and only die tired
Thomas Williams | Orlando, FL | 09/15/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie just the other day. I actually thought the acting and premise was pretty darn good. The problem I had with the whole movie was just the irrational and stupid behavior of the "bandits". You just have to keep on running? Why? Run where? At first it is understandable, but after a while this HUGE gang would have realized (like they did) that it only consisted of 5 pursuers. Even though these rifles had long reach (by the way, nothing existed then that could do what they did - specially at 1/2 mile) these guys would have known how to ambush. Where was running getting them anyway? Again, most outlaws run because they are pursued by a group bigger than they are - that was not the case here. At one point a shoot out occured in the city within 40 yards of each other - hardly an advantage that a singly loaded rifle would give you.
Lastly, the shot came from SOMEWHERE and the guy is laying there with his head shot through. What no cover? If he got hit YOU can get hit, most of these guys never sought cover and concealment they just ran around like chickens with heads cut off. That was my only real compaint with the movie, otherwise it seemed like fine acting and like I said a good premise for a story."