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Hard Times (1975) Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition Blu Ray

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Walter Hill's colourful directorial debut has quite a cult following for its toughness and violence, and it may well be his best film. Charles Bronson plays a silent street fighter in 1930s New Orleans, managed by the cool James Coburn. Jill Ireland, Strother Martin, and Michael McGuire co-star in this spare existential Depression dirge. It owes a lot to its noir origins that Hill adores so much, yet there's something very fresh and vital about its subject and approach. That's really what made so many of these films from the '70s so endearing. A bonus is the love and affection displayed by the real-life husband and wife team of Bronson and Ireland. --Bill Desowitz

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Walter Hill directs this sports drama starring Charles Bronson. In Depression-era New Orleans, bare-knuckle boxer Chaney (Bronson) teams up with gambler-turned-promoter Speed (James Coburn) to enter a series of illegal prize fights after drifting into town. Chaney's relationship with new girlfriend Lucy (Jill Ireland) suffers under the strain of his fighting career, which is itself hampered by corruption within the sport, as he makes his way through the New Orleans fighters willing to meet him.

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