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Wild Bill Hickok, famed lawman and gunman of the Old West, is haunted by his past and his reputation. He is loved by, but cannot love, Calamity Jane. Dogging his trail is young Jack McCall, who blames Bill for abandoning the boy's mother and destroying her life. McCall has sworn to kill Bill, and Bill's ghosts, his failing eyesight, and his fondness for opium may make McCall's task easier. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
The whole sequence with the hired gunmen is fiction. Jack McCall worked alone. His reason for killing Wild Bill is disputed but it was thought to be either being embarrassed by Will Bill paying for his breakfast that morning or being paid to do it by gamblers frightened that Wild Bill might become Deadwood's sheriff. See more »
As Close To History As One Gets For 'Wild Bill' Hickok
Making a movie about a legend is a tricky situation; it is worse when the pages of history are filled with myth. There is no doubt that 'Wild Bill' Hickok was a lawman, gunman and Western legend. There is the problem. He was so famous that numerous sources sought to make their fortunes on stories embellished for sales. The most notable was the "dime novel." The makers of this movie did as good a job as anyone has it trying to tell the true story of this legend.
There are scenes not found in Bill's history, but they are historical for the time. The classic Western model is not in play. Indians, Chinese, black cowboys, ... etc are muti-dimensional characters. The added scenes flow the story and add depth. Even with numerous flash backs the story flows well.
Jeff Bridges as "James Butler 'Wild Bill' Hickok" and Ellen Barkin " as "Calamity Jane" do great jobs with the main characters. Bridges while in costume actually resembles the pictures of the real "Wild Bill." The romantic relationship between these Western notables and its development is well done. The interplay sets this movie apart from most Westerns, and adds appeal to those who might not be Western fans.
Two of the best pieces of acting are by actors with smaller parts in the film. Watch for Keith Carradine as "Buffalo Bill Cody" and John Hurt as "Charley Prince," Bill's friend and the character narrating the film.
James Gammon (I) does a good character role as "California Joe."
If you like Western history, this is a great film. If you want a classic Western flick and non-stop action, you may find it slow. For anything more accurate you'll need to go the library; to date, this is the best film on Hickok.
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