"Ah, stardom! They put your name on a star in the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard and you walk down and find a pile of dog manure on it. That tells the whole story, baby." ~Lee Marvin
Cat(herine) Balou's family farm is being threatened by the Rail Road. She sends for the legendary gunfighter Kid Shelleen, finding him to be the drunkest gunfighter in the west. When her father is killed by the rail road magnate's gunman, she vowes to fight on. Shelleen manages to ride sideways in several scenes, while minstrels sing the ballad of Cat Ballou in between scenes.
A gen-u-ine movie first! A way-out whopper! A funny movie? YOU BET IT IS...!
It's That Way-Out Whopper Of A Funny Western...A She-Bang To End All She-Bangs!
Cat Ballou Is All A Ball!
Is this the way to make a funny movie...? You bet it is!
The original novel written by Roy Chanslor was a serious western. The comedy elements were added for the film.
When filming the scene where Kid Shaleen takes a bath and dons his costume, director Elliot Silverstein had all actions timed to the beat of a metronome, its pace increasing when Shaleen takes his guns. He planned to have the scene scored with Spanish guitars following this beat, but the producer was adamantly opposed to anything Spanish in a Western. In the end electric, guitars were used.
The film's horse trainer told Elliot Silverstein that the scene where a horse leans against a wall with its front legs crossed could not be shot because horses don't cross their legs, then that it might be possible if he had a couple of days. Silverstein invoked his rank as director and gave him an hour. The trainer plied the horse with sugar cubes while repeatedly pushing its leg into position, and they were able to get the shot.
Kirk Douglas turned down the role of Shelleen. Jack Palance desperately wanted the role but was never offered it. Ann-Margret was first choice for the title role but turned it down.
Lee Marvin received a best actor oscar for his role as Shelleen. In his acceptance speech he said, "Half of this probably belongs to a horse out there somewhere".
There is a scene later in the movie (the second time) which Lee Marvin is shooting objects thrown into the air. If one pays attention to the background, right after he shoots a stick, it is possible to see a small plane in the sky.
Nat 'King' Cole died of cancer several months before the film was released.
Jackson Two-Bears: He's a murderer, a hired killer. His nose was bit off in a fight.
Frankie Ballou: If I was gonna be scared, I'd be scared of the fella who bit it off, not him!
Kid Sheleen: Let's have a drink for old times' sake.
Butch Cassidy: Old times' sake? That means you got no cash.
Clay Boone: We can't hold up the train.
Cat: Why not?
Clay Boone: Lots of reasons.
Cat: Name 'em.
Clay Boone: We're rustlers, not train robbers.
Cat: Well, if people didn't try something new, there wouldn't be hardly any progress at all.
Kid Sheleen: At first you don't think you can stand to get hit, then you realize you can take it 'cause the blood don't matter. It's a great gift I'm goin' to give you - to know it don't hurt to fight!