Also known as The Streetfighter, Hard Times stars Charles Bronson as Chaney, an aging bare-knuckle boxer, trying to scratch out a living in the middle of the Depression. "Speed" (James Coburn) is the two-bit promoter who books Chaney in the tank towns of the South and Midwest. He is briefly reinvigorated by an affair with the lovely Lucy (Jill Ireland, Mrs. Bronson in real life), but it's back to the seedy realm before too long. Hard Times represented the directorial debut of Walter Hill, who even at this early stage demonstrated the gritty verisimilitude that he'd bring to such future projects as The Warriors (1979) and 48 Hrs. (1984). ~
Pauline Kael called the setting of Hard Times “elaborate period recreations that seem almost to be there for their own sake”." The film is about the personalities of local street fighters and their agents; a group that has always been on the outskirts of society. On the other hand, setting the film in the Depression might have been a way for Hill to make Chaney a more sympathetic character. Kael explains, “Put [Charles Bronson] in modern clothes and he’s a hard-bitten tough guy, but with that cap on he’s one of the dispossessed—an honest man who’s known hunger”.
Roger Ebert in his October 14, 1975 review of Hard Times in the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a powerful, brutal film containing a definitive Charles Bronson performance
Release Date: October 8, 1975