The Last Hard Men (film)

The Last Hard Men is a 1976 Western film directed by Andrew McLaglen, based on the 1971 novel Gundown by Brian Garfield. It stars Charlton Heston and James Coburn, with supporting roles by Barbara Hershey, Jorge Rivero, Michael Parks, and Larry Wilcox in his screen debut.[1]

The Last Hard Men
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndrew V. McLaglen
Produced byWalter Seltzer
Russell Thacher
Written byGuerdon Trueblood
Based onGundown
by Brian Garfield
StarringCharlton Heston
James Coburn
Barbara Hershey
Jorge Rivero
Michael Parks
Larry Wilcox
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyDuke Callaghan
Edited byFred A. Chulack
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
June 1, 1976
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States


In 1909 Arizona, Captain Sam Burgade has retired from his law enforcement career with the Arizona Rangers. Hoping for peace and quiet, he suddenly learns that his old enemy, Zach Provo, has escaped from a Yuma prison with other convicts. Zach Provo is a half-Indian outlaw who dream of enacting revenge on Burgade, not only for putting him away, but for the death of his Indian wife, was killed in crossfire

Years before, Burgade was shot by Provo and barely survived, but later sent Provo to prison. Out for revenge, Provo does not go after a cash shipment as Burgade expects but instead kidnaps Burgade's daughter, Susan.

The six escaped men form an ambush. Provo allows two of them to sexually assault Susan, assuming Burgade will show himself in an attempt to rescue her. Burgade has been knocked unconscious, however, and is unable to intervene.

Setting a fire to smoke out the fugitives, Burgade is able to dispose of them one by one until only Provo is left. But he finds himself at gunpoint, then is shot by Provo several times and about to die when he is able to retaliate at last.



Critical response

New York Times film critic, Richard Eder gave the film a mostly positive review, writing, "'The Last Hard Men" is not just a horse opera; it's practically Tristan and Isolde. Only the love-death relation isn't between a man and a woman but between a retired lawman and a half-breed Navajo who is obsessed with the notion of killing him ... Some of the chases are well done, particularly a night scene when the daughter tries to escape the bandits and is hauled back. I liked the dry performance of Michael Parks as the young sheriff who has more faith in his telephone than in old-fashioned shoot-outs.'[2]

Variety magazine said of the film, "The Last Hard Men is a fairly good actioner with handsome production values and some thoughtful overtones...The details of life at a crucial transition point in American history are well captured in the script and in the art direction."[3]


  1. The Last Hard Men at All Movie.
  2. "Eder, Richard at the New York Times, film review, April 24, 1976.
  3. Variety magazine, June 1, 1976.
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