- 1 hr 33 min
Hard Times is a 1975 Charles Bronson period piece that was released at the height of his box office drawing power. The film can be considered both a melodrama and an action style fight film. Hard Times is set during the Great Depression and centers its themes heavily on the working class struggle. In the film, Bronson stars as Cheney, an itinerant drifter that has no money to his name. He bets his last few dollars on himself in an illegal pick up fight. Upon winning the fight, he forms a reluctant partnership with a fight manager/hustler named Speed. Speed convinces Cheney to travel with him to New Orleans where they can enter into scores of pick up fights for more money. Cheney does not wish to do so, but he realizes he is aging. These fights may be the only way he can earn enough money to retire. Speed is in deep debt to loan sharks and this motivates his desire for Cheney to fight. Cheney does win, but he raises the ire of a wealthy fight benefactor that wishes to find a tough champion to finally defeat Cheney. The Cheney character is one of action and not words. Bronson has very little dialogue in the film. The character Coburn plays does most of the talking and the two characters significantly contrast one another. This creates the dramatic tension between the two characters throughout the film that does not resolve itself until the end. The film is directed by Walter Hill who would go on to great fame with 48 Hours and Southern Comfort in the 1980s. Hill directorial style helps capture a solid image of America in the Depression Era. The film was a relatively large budgeted one for this type of film at the time. It was a major success when released further establishing Bronson as a top box office draw.