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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 14.29%
Just Average: 4.76%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 4.76%

1 review, 15 user ratings

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Zandy's Bride
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by Charles Tatum

"A bride to see"
5 stars

Gene Hackman turns in one of his best performances in this intimate western.

Hackman is Zandy, a hard and angry rancher who needs a wife to cook the meals and birth him some sons. The title bride comes in the form of Hannah (Liv Ullmann), fresh off the stage from Minnesota to the gorgeous coast near Monterey, California. Hannah has lied about her age and Zandy already has it in for her from the beginning. The two are married immediately, and Zandy rapes his new bride that night.

Zandy's place is filthy, and Hannah does what she can to clean it up. She makes some meek requests- things like a clothesline, no hats at the dinner table, and Zandy must wash his hands before eating. Zandy reacts angrily and violently to this, and eventually we find out why. Zandy goes to visit his father (Frank Cady), mother (Eileen Heckart), and little brother (Sam Bottoms). There, Pa treats Ma with even less regard than Zandy treats Hannah. Zandy returns home and finds Hannah has befriended Maria (Susan Tyrrell), a hot to trot latina who has obvious designs on Zandy. Tyrrell is surprisingly good in an ethnic part that she normally would be all wrong for.

The film wanders from situation to situation, things that may seem minor today, but were part of life back then. Zandy is attacked by a bear, and carted home by some neighbors, who invite the isolated couple to a Thanksgiving barbecue. In one of the film's strongest scenes, Hannah tries to please Zandy by curling her hair and dressing in a red dress, just to be dunked in a horse trough and humiliated by her husband, who thinks she looks like a hussy. Hannah meekly fights back here and there, but she is trying to make the most of her situation. She walks in on Zandy and Maria together, and Zandy takes off for months without telling Hannah where he is going.

Hannah is finally pregnant, but she is also bleeding. She is very pregnant when Zandy returns with new cattle, stampeding them through her new garden when she tries to stand up to him. More pregnancy complications ensue, Ma comes to nurse her, and Zandy flees Monterey for San Francisco, caving into the ultimatum that he originally challenged to Hannah- if you don't like it here, then leave.

The big tough rancher is swallowed up in a bigger tougher town, and he returns home months later to Hannah, who has surprises of her own.

Jan Troell and screenwriter Marc Norman fashion a great film here. This is a western, but there are no gunfights, no sheriffs, no outlaws, just seemingly realistic life. Troell's camera finds great little scenes, showcasing the actors who are dressed down and dowdy. Life then was ugly, and Troell captures it well. Hackman is incredible. He is really unlikable, cruel, and delights in his cruelty to his new wife. Hackman never crosses the line into caricature, his character is totally believable. Ullmann is also great, not becoming just another victim who turns into a liberated woman at just the right time. The audience realizes she is a person before Zandy does. Like I wrote, Tyrrell is good, as is Heckart. She has a great pained look that is the product of years of her character's abuse at the hands of Frank Cady's Pa, eons from his folksy sitcom characters.

The script sends us through the lives of these people without too much direction, and I believe this is because these people's lives were just as directionless. There is an underlying anger and toughness to this cast that you do not see in many westerns, which seem to make us think that life then was really fun.

This film is not your average western, and even non-genre fans will find something to like. I highly recommend it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6183&reviewer=325
originally posted: 12/02/02 19:19:54
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User Comments

9/16/17 Sandy Allessandrini Sad scene when Zandy rides Ranger up a rocky hill, and Ranger breaks a leg. 4 stars
4/24/17 Aseeri v.nice 5 stars
11/28/16 adam warlock Good performances but slow and mostly unpleasant. 3 stars
7/29/15 demetra rogers i love this movie. especially the twin babies. 5 stars
11/14/13 Diane Perez Believable film, Hackman truly is an abusive unfeeling man. 5 stars
8/17/13 Dave Gibson It has held up well over 40 years since its release, a sign of quality acting and story 4 stars
7/28/13 shirley faver great character study. One suffers with the characters as they grow and develop. 4 stars
8/29/12 Helen Desamais So real, I lost myself, with the cast, at times I felt embarrased then happy fun. 5 stars
10/07/07 Jennifer Martinez Watch it when you're in a contemplative mood. Especially good for those who tend to "romanz 5 stars
6/05/07 Shawn One of Gene Hackman's best movies. Scenery is great and so is the story 5 stars
8/04/05 Steve Bird I saw it on the silver screen 30 years ago and have been aching to see it again. 5 stars
5/07/04 Allan Lindh Two great actors, well shot, simple script, prettiest place on earth 5 stars
6/16/03 Mary Linda D. Poston The only film I have seen where Gene Hackman interacts with a woman 5 stars
10/02/02 Charles Tatum Excellent western/ character study; Hackman at his best 5 stars
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  02-May-1974 (PG)



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