In this short and comedic western, Hoot Gibson plays a cowboy who is so mild-mannered that his nickname is Peaceful. William “Peaceful” Patton is such a pacifist that he’s even named after the first Quaker, William Penn. When the movie starts, a group of cowboys are shooting at each other from opposite sides of a ravine. Patton rides into the middle of the fight and tells them to put down their guns and settle things peacefully. Everyone ignores him.
Patton has gotten a job in a neighboring town, working on the ranch of Senora Martini (Lina Basquette). Leaving behind his beloved mother (Jessie Arnold), Patton heads to the Martini ranch and he discovers that everyone is scared to death of him. That’s because Patton looks just like a notorious outlaw known as The Hard Hombre. The Hard Hombre has killed a man for every year that he’s been alive. Realizing that he can use this to bring peace to the town and to help Senora Martini get her cattle back from rival rancher Joe Barlowe (G. Raymond Nye), Patton pretends to be the Hard Hombre.
Soon, everyone in town is getting along and Senora Martini has fallen in love with the man that she thinks is the Hard Hombre. But then, the Hard Hombre actually does show up in town! Even worse, Peaceful’s mother also shows up and wants to know why everyone thinks her son is a killer!
With a 64 minute running time, this low-budget programmer isn’t bad. It pokes fun at every western cliché, showing that even in the early days of Hollywood, the conventions of the western were already set in stone. The film gets a surprising amount of comedic mileage from people acting scared of the mild-looking and acting Hoot Gibson. Gibson was one of the earliest western stars, playing heroes who used their wits and who rarely carried a gun. Appearing in a film for a poverty row studio was a step down for Gibson but his casting still pays off in That Hard Hombre and he gives a good performance as a cowboy who just wants everyone to get along and to make his mother proud.