Zandy’s Bride (1974)
Director: Jan Troell
Cast: Gene Hackman, Liv Ullmann, Eileen Heckart
Synopsis: A taciturn 19th-Century California rancher takes a mail-order bride to help him in the daily struggles of country living.
Gene Hackman’s a surly, unlikeable horse rancher in Swedish director Jan Troell’s Zandy’s Bride. He advertises for a wife, and then rapes his new bride (Liv Ullmann) on their wedding night. She’s there for no other reason than to bear him a son, and he’s not too concerned about striking up any kind of warm or loving relationship. Of course, that’s what eventually happens, but you have to wonder just why such an independent, strong-minded woman would hang around after that first night. It’s a typically 70s movie, determined to rub your nose in the harsh reality of frontier life, which isn’t a bad thing. Zandy never does apologise to the wife for that rape, but he does buy her a flat-pack stove after cheating on her with an old flame. That’s progress of a kind, I suppose…
(Reviewed 5th November 2014)