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Cult Classic Tribute to Western Clichés...
cariart2 June 2004
By 1985, the movie 'western' was a genre long dormant, with film critics quick to point out that audiences had become far too 'sophisticated' for old-fashioned "shoot-'em-ups". Two film makers decided to test the waters, however; Clint Eastwood, reviving an older version of his "Man with No Name", directed and starred in his SHANE homage, PALE RIDER; and Lawrence Kasdan, fresh from the huge success of THE BIG CHILL, fulfilled his life-long dream to make a western, with SILVERADO. Neither film was successful at the box office, and pundits predicted they would soon be forgotten...but a new force in the movie industry was emerging, video rentals, and SILVERADO, with it's spectacular action sequences, charismatic heroes, and sweeping, unforgettable music score (by Bruce Broughton), was an unexpected and overwhelming hit, drawing Hollywood's attention to the new market, and lifting the film to the near-classic cult status it enjoys today.

While PALE RIDER would focus on Clint Eastwood's continuing demythologizing of the West (which would culminate in 1992's UNFORGIVEN), SILVERADO embraces all the 'classic' Western clichés, serving them up with such exuberance that they seem 'fresh'. The story of four likable 'shootists' of nearly superhuman skills, bonding, and ultimately taking on a corrupt sheriff and his brutal gang of deputies in the town of Silverado, trots out one traditional element after another, from the classic 'bushwhack' (with a John Ford 'Doorway Framing' homage shot) to the 'pretty widow' in a wagon train; from the 'saloonkeeper with a heart of gold' to the 'crooked gambler with a concealed weapon'...and even climaxes with that most traditional of finales, as two ex-partners face off on a dusty street in an old-fashioned Western shootout.

The four leads couldn't have been cast more perfectly; Scott Glenn channels Gary Cooper as a laconic cowboy fresh from an undeserved 5-year prison stretch; Kevin Kline exudes his signature charm as an ex-gang member whose life changed because of "a dog"; Danny Glover is warm and reassuring as a man moving west from Chicago to help his family, armed with a legendary Henry rifle; and, best of all, young Kevin Costner, in his breakout performance, is irresistible, wild and acrobatic, as Glenn's ever-optimistic, carefree younger brother, a part Kasdan wrote specifically for the actor, after his scenes were cut from THE BIG CHILL.

The supporting cast is equally superb, with standout performances by giant Brian Dennehy, John Cleese (as a sheriff who knows 'where' his jurisdiction ends), Jeff Goldblum, Linda Hunt, James Gammon ("You led a posse to my best hide-out??"), Jeff Fahey, and, in a wonderful if brief role, breathtaking Rosanna Arquette, as the widow courted by both Kline and Glenn. With a cast THIS good, it is remarkable that the film had to 'go to video' to achieve success!

The final line of SILVERADO, "We'll be back!", shouted by Costner as he and Glenn ride 'into the sunset', has had countless fans wishing that a follow-up movie had been made (a 1999 nationwide video poll chose SILVERADO as the film "Most Deserving of a Sequel"), but time has, sadly, eliminated that possibility. The film that 'failed' when released, in a genre that 'experts' considered passé, is, after nearly 20 years, still winning new fans.

As Kevin Kline and Linda Hunt say, as a toast: "Here's to the good stuff...May it last a long time!"
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darth_sidious2 July 2001
Silverado is damn good fun. Being a small fan of the Western genre, I felt this was the most refreshing one I've seen in a while. The genre had pretty much died, but came back in Silverado, and it felt so fresh.

The plot is simple and cliche, I think it's paying homage to the classics. It sticks within the Western boundary and does its thing.

The cast is pretty good, and well known, but in 1985, these actors were just Hollywood virgins. I was surprised by John Cleese, he stuck out like a sore thumb, but I enjoyed his performance. You have Costner hamming it up, and Jeff Goldblum was cool. Scott Glenn was probably the best. Hell, Glover was pretty good, too.

The direction is wonderful as is the editing, the film moves along at a decent pace. I wish Lawrence was a more prominent director, he deserves more success.

The film score is very nice, fits the film perfectly.

Overall, one of the best Westerns in the last 25 years.
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one fun movie
MichaelM2416 July 2001
An all-star cast makes SILVERADO one of the most fun movies I've ever see. Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Patricia Arquette, Brian Dennehy, Jeff Fahey, Jeff Goldblum, John Cleese, and many more populate this well-paced wild west adventure about friendship, loyalty, and justice. With the exception of Indians, this film features just about every western element in existence. Director Lawrence Kasdan gets the most out of everything: the wide open spaces, the sleepy little western towns, and Bruce Broughton's rousing western-flavored score. It sometimes seems like the movie tried to pack too much in, but it's handled quite well by someone who obviously knows how to make an entertaining western. The climax is great, with at least three different showdowns going on at once. It's a shame the rumored (and actually scripted five years later) sequel was never made, and it probably never will be, because I wouldn't mind seeing what these characters are up to years after this fun-filled adventure.
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Great entertainment
pswanson0011 January 2005
I love this movie, so much that I finally got tired of renting it and bought a copy. I tell anyone who asks that it's "...the western for 12-year-old boys of all ages." I'd guess that women would enjoy it also, if for no other reason than the superb male cast. I can't think of a film which has a cast with greater depth. I love the humor woven through the episodes of action and buddyhood, and nearly fell out of my seat laughing when John Cleese first appeared on screen. His first line is an all-time great, right up there with Tommy Lee Jones' "My my, what a mess" in The Fugitive (I won't quote it, in case you haven't seen the film). If you want to be thoroughly entertained for a couple of hours, and don't require powerful social import in your viewing choices, I'd recommend Silverado strongly. Actually, the relationship of Danny Glover to the main protagonists IS socially important, so enjoy that too.
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An Entertainng, Underrated Western
ccthemovieman-124 June 2006
If you are looking for a very entertaining western, it's hard to top this one. It's fairly long at 134 minutes, but the deep cast and always-interesting story make the time fly by.

The first half of the film is about as good as it gets but two climactic scenes at the end get a little too carried away with the "Rambo" mentality of good guys not getting shot when they should have, etc. But, overall, it's so good it is still very highly-recommended. Among the "lists" you see on this website's message boards and elsewhere, you rarely see this movie mentioned among top westerns and that is a huge oversight.

There are four main "good guys" that are played by well-known actors: Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner and Danny Glover. I especially liked Kline as "Paden" with his gentlemanly manner about him and Glenn's voice always makes him interesting. Costner is so young looking he almost looks like a teenager.

Brian Dennehy, as the villainous "Sheriff Cobb," is verbally restrained in here, which was nice to hear, for a change but he's still intense and fascinating. (This movie marked the 10,000th time Hollywood made a lawman the villain since the 1960s).

The story is fun, a straight cowboy movie with no romances or gratuitous sex scenes thrown in and has the usual beautiful western scenery and photography. The only problem was the sound. The soundtrack is so loud so have to crank up your center speaker to hear the dialog over the music.
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"Let's get 'em!"
crowrobot22 October 2005
That one line from Jake (Kevin Costner) as he, Paden (Kevin Kline), Emmett (Scott Glenn), and Mal (Danny Glover) are riding into town for the last battle against a corrupt sheriff (Brian Dennehy) exemplifies everything that is great about 'Silverado'. It's a high-spirited adventure that is fun, does not take itself too seriously (well, maybe a little), and cheerfully reenacts Western clichés. It's the kind of movie where you can tell the actors had fun making it, and you have fun too.

The acting is uniformly excellent. Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, and Danny Glover all bring quiet dignity as well as low-key humor to their roles, but it's Kevin Costner who impressed me the most. As Glenn's cocky young brother, Costner doesn't even bother to contain his glee at being in a Western. He gives the most fun performance in the movie, and it's good to see a younger Costner not taking himself nearly as seriously as he does now. The supporting cast has some nice players: John Cleese shows up as a fair-minded sheriff who seems to have walked over from a Monty Python skit; Academy Award-winner Linda Hunt ('The Year Of Living Dangerously') steals scenes as a strong-willed bar owner who Kevin Kline befriends; and Brian Dennehy is thoroughly slimy as the villain.

The action is fun, and director Lawrence Kasdan shows a gift for this material (granted, he was the person who wrote 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'), and the screenplay (also by Kasdan) is joyous in the way it resurrects the Western. The movie also has one of the best action scores I've ever heard by Bruce Broughton, and I was humming the title theme as the movie concluded.

'Silverado' is a shining example of the Western genre, and it stands as one of the greatest pure entertainment Westerns ever made.
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"Silverado" carries us out into the overpowering grandeur of the American West...
Nazi_Fighter_David16 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
One of the cruel twists that sometimes appears in the showdown is the spectacle friend facing friend at opposite ends of a gun… Kline faces his friend and fellow lawman Dennehy… And the two come into direct conflict… They know that the only true test can be when one outdraws and kills the other… The inexorable outcome is a tense showdown… With such equal abilities a split second is the difference between life and death… The two friends square up and draw in the same instant and simultaneously… Kline is surprisingly effective as the cowboy with a troubled past and Dennehy, as Sheriff Cobb, generates a palpable menace…

Scott Glenn is a professional gunslinger, not an angel or a traditional 'goodie' by any means but a man with a certain honor and nobility… His life is a series of confrontations… He plans to start life over in California with his brother Jake but, as ever, there are always punks who wants to take him down…Glenn does not have the screen presence of some of the other characters of the film, but the action-oriented films ideally suited him…

Kevin Costner is charismatic as the sympathetic young hotshot gunslinger, soft at heart… He measures his self by his fancy double gun belt… Wearing two guns, he kills two armed guys in a couple of seconds with two shots— one bursts from each pearl-handled gun—and he didn't even aim…

Danny Glover must overcome the racism of Turley to find the 'baddies' who killed his old father and wounded his sister… No doubt racism is rampant in this part of the country… The film succeeded in introducing a strong black character with a look of high expectation on his face…

Villains in Lawrence Kasdan's "Silverado" are all quite good… Ray Baker (Ethan McKendrick) is totally without moral redemption whose job it is to run settlers off their homesteads… John Cleese, is the nasty sheriff (Langston) dressed rather elegantly in suit and bowler... Jeff Goldblum remembers me Lee Van Cleef in a scene from "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral". In this scene, Cleef prepares himself to kill Kirk Douglas by a small gun hidden in his left boot… Goldblum, in "Silverado" lifts his pant leg, at the poker table, and reveals the handle of a long knife secreted in his boot…

Rosanna Arquette's short scenes in the movie look to be going to a romantic relationship involving her and the two heroes (Kline and Glenn) but nothing ever occurs… Even Lynn Whitfield as Glover's sister has so little dialogue and screen time that she doesn't emerge well in her true character… Linda Hunt makes her best as Stella, the 'Midnight Star' in a velvet dress, who runs the local saloon…

Filmed on ravishing locations around New Mexico, "Silverado" is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre… It is filled with challenge, and excitement… It catches the perfect blue sky above the orange desert and celebrates the beauty of wagon trains moving through pretty, rolling country… splashing noisily across the river… It exhibits expansive saloons busy with gamblers, drinkers, and lovely brightly-dressed girls... It shows fantastic shootouts, ambushes, jail breaks, outlaw hideouts, bar fights, and cattle stampede…
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There shoulda been a sequel
morrisonhimself13 April 2009
There are two reasons I say there should have been a sequel: One is that, simply, this was so great, so nearly perfect that it deserved and deserves follow-up.

From largest role to smallest (and I don't mean Linda Hunt), the acting was superlative ... and here I have to pause to say it took several viewings for me to finally admit that, yes, even Kevin Costner, whom I generally and thoroughly dislike, was darn good as a cowboy.

I saw this first in a theater, in Hollywood, with people from the industry, and absolutely LOVED it ... except for Kevin Costner.

I was in awe of the script, of the acting, of the photography, of ... well, of everything ... except Kevin Costner.

Well, I watched it recently on Turner Classic Movies and, reluctantly, decided it was just prejudice, however deserved, and in truth Costner really made a very good cowboy.

There is a little secret here I won't completely divulge: Watch how actors mount their horses, and you'll see if they really know Western riding and, for that matter, if the director knows his business.

One of the actors deserving special praise is Brian Dennehy. As far as I am concerned, he can do no wrong. He is one of the very best actors in the business during the last 20 or 30 years, just an absolutely fabulous talent.

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, but even Jeff Goldblum was great in this role. Oh, I know he's good, but I would have thought, and did think, that a Western setting would find him out of place. Wrong.

Sheb Wooley has a small part and it was great to see him in what turned out to be one of his last roles. He, of course, was right at home.

Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, and Danny Glover also looked right at home, as if they had been born making Westerns.

Linda Hunt, another actor who can seemingly do no wrong, was in another movie this same year, 1985, the terribly unfairly ignored "Eleni," and it and "Silverado" both were much better than the movie that carried nearly all the awards, and which I won't name here.

That other film might have deserved the Oscar for its score, but even the score of "Silverado" was first class and would have got my vote if I were allowed to cast a ballot. Bruce Broughton, who has scored mostly for television, looked to be on the way to picking up the mantle of Elmer Bernstein, and I even bought the recorded score -- at retail rates! Which I never do. It is excellent music.

"Silverado" is an almost perfect movie.

Oh, and the second reason there shoulda been a sequel: The last words shouted by the Kevin Costner character. Watch this movie and listen.
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namashi_123 May 2011
'Silverado', Co-Written & Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, is an Entertaining Western Flick, that manages to hold your attention in the goings-on. Even the performances, are well-done, that only add to it's booty.

'Silverado' depicts a chance encounter between a group of cowboys who travel to the town of Silverado, where they thwart the plans of a rancher and a corrupt sheriff.

Though the entire concept of the Good challenging the Evil, has been told on celluloid a dozen of times, 'Silverado', however, manages to convince it's viewer, thanks to it's interesting screenplay. Lawrence & Mark Kasdan's Screenplay is nice, and plays it safe. The Action Sequences are very well shot, while the Cinematography is good. Editing & Art Design deserve a mention.

Performance-Wise: Kevin Kline is good. Scott Glenn is efficient. Kevin Costner & Danny Glover are in form. Jeff Goldblum, Linda Hunt, Rosanna Arquette & John Cleese lend very good support. Brian Dennehy is excellent as the corrupt sheriff.

On the whole, 'Silverado' succeeds by entertaining it's viewer.
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Rip roaring, hard riding, gun twirling Western
Cajun-421 July 2000
Westerns are hard to come by these days so make the most of this; it's a good one. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a spoof but it certainly doesn't take itself too seriously,best not to worry about trying to follow the plot just go along with the roller coaster ride. There's lots of hard riding, fancy shooting and athleticism by our worthy heroes as they face off with the usually overweight and constantly smiling villains who don't quite twirl their moustaches but come close. The heroine is rather insipid but this is an action picture and the romance doesn't get in the way too much. It all goes on a little too long but there's lots of fun to be had along the way.
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A robust, large scale, and diverting Western.
Hey_Sweden1 May 2015
Co-writer, producer and director Lawrence Kasdan did his part in keeping the Western genre alive with "Silverado". It may not be innovative, but that may well have been the point, as Kasdan aims to pay tribute to a beloved movie genre that dated all the way back to the silent era. Admittedly, this one came along when the Western was going through a bit of a dry spell, which made it all the more welcome.

Four very engaging stars - Kevin Kline as Paden, Scott Glenn as Emmett, Danny Glover as Mal, Kevin Costner as Jake - are an interesting combo, as these characters, united by circumstance, eventually band together to fight against the injustices occurring in the town of Silverado. More than once, they prove their worth, in a story (written by Kasdan and his brother Mark) that is fairly episodic.

"Silverado" is extremely well shot, by John Bailey, in widescreen. It gets the look of a classic Western just right. It hooks you right away with an opening moment of quiet suddenly interrupted by a gunfight, and promises a substantial amount of entertainment to come when we're introduced to the tough and resilient Emmett and get a load of the majestic New Mexico locations. Admittedly, this doesn't work quite as well when you start to think about it too much, so it's better to just go with the flow and appreciate all that Kasdan and his cast & crew have packed into this presentation. Certainly, it would be hard not to get roused by that stirring and wonderful music score composed by Bruce Broughton.

There's a lot of acting talent to go around here, but giving things a curious quality is some unexpected casting. Linda Hunt? Jeff Goldblum? JOHN CLEESE? Rosanna Arquette is fairly appealing if somewhat aloof as the gal who catches both Klines' and Glenns' eyes. Jeff Fahey makes his film debut as scruffy psycho Tyree. Lovely ladies Amanda Wyss and Lynn Whitfield play local girl Phoebe and Mals' sister respectively. Recognizable character players in the cast include Marvin J. McIntyre, Sheb Wooley, James Gammon, Ray Baker, Joe Seneca, Earl Hindman, Jim Haynie, Richard Jenkins (also making his film debut), Pepe Serna, Ted White, and an uncredited Brion James as Hobart, the wagon master. The real standout for this viewer is Brian Dennehy, who never overplays his role as villainous sheriff Cobb, instead suffusing the character with a good deal of charm.

The pacing rarely slows down, and the action scenes are first rate. Especially good is a scene involving a stampede.

While lacking the overall impact for this viewer to consider it great, it's still pretty fun while it lasts.

Seven out of 10.
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Entertaining, but not innovative enough
David-HMB25 February 2002
Many of the reviews say _Silverado_ broke new ground for the Western genre, but I would argue that while it was undoubtedly good escapist fun, it was more derivative than innovative.

Sure, the conversations often seem much more natural than those from other Westerns, and indeed most of the characters are drawn with more dimensions intact, but the entire script could have been pulled together by pulling scenes from a bag full of ideas from other movies. Not to mention the locations, which I could have sworn I recognized from films like _The Big Country_ and anything by John Ford.

For example, Brian Dennehy did a fine job, but you could tell who his character was just by the fact that Dennehy was cast in the role. Many of his characters share the traits of Sheriff Cobb (more than this, I won't say here).

I have to say that as a firm non-fan of Kevin Costner, even I have to admit he did fine here as well... as did all the lead actors. Their careers since _Silverado_ have demonstrated that this was an unusually gifted ensemble.
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An Homage that works on it's own
historygeek-224 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Many other people here have commented on how formulaic this movie is. Sure it is- it's Kasdan's tribute to the Westerns he loves. One doesn't write a tribute to the Beatles without some kind of imitation. Take it for what it is, on that level.

But it's also a great movie on it's own. The acting is terrific, the plot is pretty much what the plot of a Western is supposed to be, and we all agree on the scenery and music.

I have trouble with some of the other (negative) reviews. Several state that the characters are too black and white. I didn't see it. Look at the 4 main characters. Emmet is just out of prison, for murder. Justified? Sure, but still "murder". Paden is a reformed crook, seemingly trying to go straight. Mal is a "black sheep" whose family thinks he abandoned them. And Jake-well he's immature, and thinks with his guns. (All three of them.) How are they too good and pure? The movie is about writing wrongs, and redeeming oneself, so there have to be some skeletons buried.

The actors portraying the main 4 do a great job. Scott Glenn makes Emmet a man of iron will. Kevin Kline's Paden is a fatalist, just trying to keep alive. Danny Glover plays Mal as a man that wants to be treated as a man, with dignity and the desire for what's right. And Kevin Costner is just having a rollicking good time.

The bad guys are somewhat formulaic I agree, though I think Brian Dennehy as Cobb comes across as a crook who is trying to (sorta) go straight. Sure he'll do what he has to, but he's found a place where he thinks he can fit in, and he'll do what has to be done to keep it. Jeff Fahey as Tyree is terrific- there's not enough of him. He's a complete psychopath, but Fahey does a great job- he's got the whole "Helter Skelter" eyes thing going on.

Other roles are less interesting. I agree that Jeff Goldblum's "Slick" is not much, nor well-played. I think the idea of the crooked gambler was good, but the part didn't work out well. Too bad. John Cleese worked as a sheriff. Sure, he added a light touch, and I think the role was written specifically for him (just a hunch), but he's also a realist. He wants to keep the peace in his town, and that's it. If the Bad Guys get away, well good riddance. Just don't come back.

I did like Rosanna Arquette. She played a hard-working woman with some "funny" ideas. Understated, and true. It's impossible to make her look anything less than breath-taking, but they dressed her in a matronly fashion, and avoided the temptation to have her bathe in a convenient body of water, which broke my heart then and now.

As for the story, well so what if the climax was predictable. This is a movie- it's not a documentary. The good guys win, and the bad guys die for their sins. Duh. Was it surprising that Cobb and Paden faced off in the street? No, but that's what one expects in a Western. And it was done well. Both men knew it was coming, and both faced Fate, knowing that their friendship (if that's the right word) means nothing. Lots of bad guys got killed, but that's what happens when you back the wrong horse. They made their choices, and it ended badly.

I think that the biggest problem here is the lack of background. As mentioned above, the characters have histories that bring them all together here, but we don't know any more. Why did Mal leave his family? What is the background of Paden, and so on. Given the length of the movie, none of this could be covered, which is why a prequel would be a great idea. Perhaps LK could do one now, with different actors portraying the younger men and women....?

So overall, it's a great movie, and a great western. It pays tribute to the great ones that went before, even requiring the same suspension of disbelief as some of them. But it's a good vs. evil story, and succeeds well. Was it as "real" as Eastwood's "Unforgiven" (which I found boring)? Probably not, but Clint was going for the Anti-western. Kasdan went for the real thing. What he achieved is a classic movie of it's genre. Watch it, know it, love it.
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Silly, but entertaining
jeremy37 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a cross between High Noon and Blazing Saddles. There is a lot of comedy to the movie, and much seriousness. It is a cast of greats. Many of these actors have gone on to be huge stars. The movie never was boring, despite having all the clichés of any other western movie. John Cleese actually had a serious role as a mayor of a small town. There were some good lines. I liked when Danny Glover's character said "you really don't know much about 'being human'"? That's true. You can spend your whole life not knowing about people and how to deal with people. Kevin Kline was great as a very cool, intelligent gunfighter. He wanted to keep his friendship with his old friend played by Brian Dennehy. It took him a little time to look into things and find out that his buddy had become a really bad guy. QUESTION: Why did the gambler (Jeff Goldblum) try to kill Danny Glover's character? He never appeared to be in with the sheriff. My guess is that the gambler was doing it for publicity. He thought he could take the guy on and live to brag about it.
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Very good Western about four tough gunmen who ride together in search of their destiny at a little town
ma-cortes11 February 2012
Epic and breathtaking major Hollywood Western dealing with a strong feuding among some good guys and some very bad guys headed by two-fisted rivals . It deals with a misfit bunch of friends come together to right the injustices which exist in a small town . In 1880 , two brothers (Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner) along with an unlikely comrade (Kevin Kline) and an African-American (Danny Glover) arrive in the Old West town named Silverado ruled by a nasty marshal (Brian Dennehy) , there they become embroiled in a violent feuding over a valuable patch of land and flock . The peacemakers travel together , join forces and come across with many risks before they finally get their objective . Furthermore , this magnificent Western pits stubborn gunslinger and a corrupt sheriff , as ongoing adversaries , both of whom carry out an exciting final duel and bringing peace to fateful town.

Impressive , sprawling and big-budgeted Western with action , adventure , cattle stampede , thrills , energetic drama , spectacular scenarios and interesting message about peace and friendship . All of them abound in this interesting action Western . Spectacular images as when the four friends ride side by side to clean up the town of Silverado . Outstanding acting from Kevin Kline as ex-gunfighter forced to take sides in battle , Kevin Costner also stands out as quick-tempered cowboy and Jeff Goldblum as a slick gambler. Special mention to Linda Hunt as the saloon-bar queen and Danny Glover as a upright black-cowboy who seeks vengeance . Brief appearances from John Cleese as Sheriff , James Gammon as bandit and Jeff Fahey as gunslinger . Wonderful camera work in Super Techniscope by John Bailey who photographs marvelously the colorful outdoors and interior . Classic and rousing musical score by Bruce Broughton , one of the best from Western's history and deservedly nominated Academy Award , though wrongly didn't won . This marvelous Western , as long as epic , has become a classic , being stunningly and finely crafted directed by Lawrence Kasdan who also directed another awesome Western as ¨Wyatt Earp¨ . Furthermore , he made other good movies as ¨Body heat¨, ¨The big chill¨ , ¨Grand Canyon¨ and ¨Dream catcher¨ . Rating Silverado : Excellent but overlong as the runtime is approx two hours and some . This famous Western will appeal to Kevin Costner and Kevin Kline fans . Even those who don't usually like westerns are sure to enjoy it . If you never bother with Westerns , this has several reasons why you should . Worthwhile watching and above average .
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I have nothing but compliments for this gun- and trail-blazing Western opus; a symbol of the genre's unwillingness to die
TheUnknown837-12 May 2009
After the financial disaster of Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" in 1980, the Western movie genre had appeared to slip away into an unexpected demise after so many decades of enormous popularity. Then in 1985, two filmmakers, who owed their inspiration and in one case, their career to the old Westerns, brought it back from the cinematic grave of the cutting room. The first one was a revolutionary Western by Clint Eastwood. "Pale Rider" (1985) brought back the dark, cynical life of the gloomy but powerfully allegoric Westerns like "Shane" (1953). And then there was "Silverado", which instilled new life into our perception of the old classic gun and trail-blazing Westerns like "The Magnificent Seven" (1960). As an avid fan of the Westerns, both old and new, I have nothing but compliments for "Silverado" and even now, almost a quarter of a century since its theatrical debut, it still holds up as a terrifically entertaining good-hearted Western action film and fills the souls of its viewers with the same wild love and thrill that the classics and the men who made them have.

While "Pale Rider" and later, "Unforgiven" (1992) brought us a gritty, cynical view of the 19th century world, "Silverado" brings us one full of glory and spectacle from its magnificent scenery to its pulse-raising downtown shootouts and standoffs. Back with a new look, but the same charm, are the tough laconic heroes riding on elegant steeds and hauling flashy bullet-spitting hardware on their legs. Back are the sneering, equally laconic villains who spit before they draw their guns. Back are the classic shootouts where the good guys score a direct hit with every shot—no matter the distance or the situation—and the bad guys miss with every shot and yet somehow, this improbable and certainly unrealistic formula still works. "Silverado" is basically the same kind of film as "The Magnificent Seven" (1960) and the other gun-blazing Westerns from the golden age revamped and upgraded for a more contemporary audience, but still working more or less in the same way.

"Silverado" is full of old-fashioned, but terrifically entertaining action scenes ranging from fistfights to classic one-on-one showdowns in the middle of a deserted dusty street, but part of what also keep it standing on its own feet are the background stories of the colorful characters, many of whom are played by actors quite unfamiliar to the Western genre. Again, some of the subplots are old-fashioned and familiar, such as the commonly used bout between homesteaders and range men, but because its freshened up and ramped up, it works. Director, producer, and writer Lawrence Kasdan is to be congratulated enormously on this thundering, exciting Western opus. Full of witty dialogue, beautiful backgrounds, colorful things in the foreground, a wonderful Academy Award-nominated music score by Bruce Broughton, and again, that same old-fashioned, but never dying charm of the old 50s and 60s Westerns, "Silverado" is the kind of film that the whole family can sit down and enjoy. The Western genre may have slowed down and may be a little more obscure today than it was forty years ago, but it will never die completely. A flower may wilt, but its elegance is forever remembered. "Silverado" is, just like its tagline claims, the ride of your life.
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Not a "classic western" by a long shot
amerlyn26 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
What a shame that Mr. Kasdan couldn't repeat the excellent writing and story he had with Body Heat. In my opinion, in no was is this even close to "a classic western". This kind of sham is likely what did westerns in after all. John Ford, Howard Hawks, Henry Hathaway and others who really knew how to make westerns must have spun in their graves with this piece of stuff came out. Kasdan manages to lift/copy many classic elements from really great westerns: an over-the drivers shoulder shot from inside a covered wagon, from Hawks Red River, the door frame shot near the beginning from Ford's The Searchers, and the line "Start the ball" near the end from Peckinpah's Ride the High Country, just to name three. The cast, most of whom are quite good, never really gets to shine, having to constantly gun down so many others. The number and consistency of killings is mind-numbing and even boring after two plus hours. It's like a cartoon. Apparently there were an almost endless supply of villains to be killed. And also apparently, said villains couldn't shoot worth a hoot, hardly ever hitting or even coming close to the heroes. If the old west was really like this, no one would have survived. Everyone would have been killed. In summary, Silverado is a weak story, of nearly continuous episodes of killings and violence, too infrequently punctuated with dialog or any meaningful exposition.
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Hi Ho Silver!
Spikeopath10 July 2018
Silverado is directed by Lawrence Kasdan and Lawrence co-writes with his brother Mark. It stars Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, Brian Dennehy, Jeff Goldblum Linda Hunt and Rosanna Arquette. Music is by Bruce Broughton and cinematography by John Bailey.

As a big Western fan it's most interesting revisiting Silverado some 30 odd years after its release. In context of the time it first came out, when the genre was a dead duck, it was a bold and beautiful romp. How wonderful to find that with one or two 1980s irks aside, it is still a fine Western beast beating a true genre heart.

Ok, it's hardly pulling up trees thematically, in the main because it embraces what it homages, every cliche in scene and writing is respectful to its predecessors, the Kasdan's achieving everything they set out to do - entertain like minded film lovers.

Cast are on fine form, clearly enjoying the material and setting of such. The locations are outstanding, the vistas gorgeous, with production design to match. Broughton's musical score is rambunctious and lifts the spirit, even if much of it feels 1980s as opposed to the era of films setting. Action scenes are expertly staged, the improbable irrelevant for joyous rewards, and stunt work high end as well.

Themes such as prostitution and racism are only given small acknowledgements, but character building is evident at every turn to fully involve audience from first reel to last. Heroes and anti-heroes, psychos, thieves and power hungry villains, no stone left unturned here. This isn't for those after the grim textures of something like Unforgiven and latterly Hostiles, this is more in keeping with something like Tombstone, or even the much divisive Lone Ranger.

Saddle up and enjoy if you haven't already done so! 8/10
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"I'm not a great believer in doin' nothing."
classicsoncall29 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The highly improbable logistics of the opening scene with the exploding stove top sets the viewer up for a fun ride, one in which you don't know what to expect as the opening credits roll. Kevin Kline and John Cleese - is it a Monty Python Western? Scott Glenn looking like a misplaced Carradine brother. Kevin Costner way back in 1985 - with not a thought of "Dances With Wolves" or "Open Range" in sight. Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Rosanna Arquette, you have to pinch yourself over the names that back then weren't household words, but combined here make up one of the more eclectic casts in the genre.

It's too bad actually that Cleese didn't have more to do here. His first appearance on screen as Sheriff Langston is so out of place that it adds another layer of ambiguity to the film. I couldn't restrain myself from cracking up over his line after Mal (Glover) breaks up the barroom - "I don't tolerate this kind of thing, it's hard on the peace and hard on the furniture".

The on again, off again relationship of the four companion protagonists is nicely balanced with focus on the characters as individuals as well. Kline's character Paden is probably the most rounded, particularly in his relationship with Stella the Midnight Star (Linda Hunt). His final showdown with Cobb (Dennehy) relives the classic falling out of partners seeking vengeance and justice in a gunfight with only one outcome possible.

Still, the film winds up confusing at times, like in the treatment of Rosanna Arquette's character. She starts out married, feigns a flirtation with Paden, is eyed by Emmett (Glenn), and then winds up without a partner by the time it's all over. There's also the separate rivalries between the good guys and Cobb's men, as well as the good guys and the McKendrick bunch. I kept wondering how all the elements would eventually tie together, but they don't. It seems to me the story's flow would have been better served by a buildup to a single confrontation in the tradition of your standard Western. However I don't think director Lawrene Kasdan was going for standard in his homage to the genre. If you go with the flow of the story, you're better served by the action scenes, gorgeous cinematography, and exciting music score when each take their turn.
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Genre Exercise Without Spurs
slokes30 March 2007
A good movie scene can become a cliché, but a cliché can't become a good movie scene. Not unless it's "Airplane," and this isn't, it's "Silverado," director Lawrence Kasdan's heartfelt but cluttered Valentine to the Western.

Heading west, reformed outlaws Emmett (Scott Glenn) and Paden (Kevin Kline) become a band, first by springing Emmett's wild brother Jake (Kevin Costner), then by getting saved from a posse by Mal (Danny Glover), crack shot with a Henry rifle. Then it's off to the beckoning town of Silverado, where Paden finds the bar of his dreams while the others are reunited with family. All is great - until trouble rides in.

"There's nothing' wrong with the land," says Emmett's sister Kate (Patricia Gaul), "it's just some of the people." That goes for Silverado the movie, too. Kasdan was coming off a bumper crop of hits as screenwriter and director, and thus had the ability to do whatever he wanted and work with whoever he wanted in 1985. He had some trouble cutting down on the scope of his ambition. "Silverado" is a big sprawling epic of a western with one of the most eclectic casts ever brought together. Kasdan and his co-writer, brother Mark, didn't know what to do with what they had, and it shows.

Rosanna Arquette is the most obvious casualty, playing a homesteader who floats around the edges of the story. Kasdan admits much of the point of her character was lost on the cutting-room floor. But even parts that made the final cut seem uneven and sketchy. Linda Hunt won an Oscar just before this was made, but she doesn't seem to have any purpose in the story except to trade rueful japes with Kline playing a bar matron with a good heart. Jeff Goldblum drifts in as a gambler, like Kline and Gaul a member of the cast of Kasdan's last hit "The Big Chill." When he played a cowboy in "Buckaroo Banzai," it was supposed to be a joke, but here it's for real, only it isn't as Goldblum never finds a character who serves no point anyway. Glover just glowers lifelessly about "what ain't right." Even Kline, a favorite of mine, feels shallow and flat here. Wearing a beard and duster don't make you a cowboy.

The bad guys come off even worse. Brian Dennehy is their leader, Cobb, who smiles wryly in that Dennehy way and never kicks it into the next gear. He's still got that wry smile on when he faces down old friend Paden at the end. His gang lacks any sense of motivation or personality. "Why are they doing this?" someone asks, only to be answered: "Because they enjoy it." That's not enough to go on here.

The editing is atrocious. Action scenes lack spatial reality. Less than a minute after some bad guys appear out of nowhere to ambush Emmett, Mal pops out of nowhere to ambush them. A few seconds after we see Jake riding out after some villains, he's in a bar getting into a fight over a girl. Kasdan shot too much footage, and without any organic flow to begin with, the result is a hazy mess.

So what did I like? Costner surprisingly plays a goofball to good effect, and Glenn does nice work in the lead Cooper-Wayne role. The opening scenes, of him and Paden finding each other and springing Jake, have a nice flow to them. John Cleese is another example of stunt casting here, only it pays off as Cleese finds a nice blend of humor and menace playing a lawman who's not a bad guy, just narrow and selfish.

But then "Silverado" descends into cliché, bouncing from rustlers' hideout to stampede to showdown in mechanical fashion. It never bores you completely; its desire to entertain is palpable throughout, but it never rises above predictability.

"What a waste," Dennehy says at the end. I couldn't agree more.
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Four Fameri meets High Two O'clock
tedg11 June 2002
Kasden is an interesting writer. He is completely without imagination. No crime there. He is instead a craftsman, an engineer. If all you want to do is take up space pleasantly, that's good enough

This is fun, but the reason it is fun is because is because it is all borrowed from pictures we like: the 'High Noon's and 'Seven Samuri's of our collective film memories.

The question is not whether this film entertains (it does), but whether it entertains in a way that reduces or enhances our ability to be entertained next time. It think, like most other formula projects, it reduces it. That's because the mind seems to have only two modes: recognition and learning.

In a formula picture, you see familiar icons behaving in expected ways. You are pleased because you are assured. The more assured and comfortable those images, the happier you are in your conceptual cocoon. So these film experiences actually suck the life out of our imagination. They are, in fact, the equivalent of the oppressors that figure in so many of them.

The only thing that saves these in the modern era are actors that overlay irony. Someone like Kline who looks at you as if to say: 'look, I'm playing this stupid, one-dimensional cartoon, but both you and I know what it is, wink wink nudge nudge.' Kasden provides this opening by allowing Kline to fall in love with a plain-looking dwarf. It is only slightly against the template: she is a saloon owner with a heart of gold, but enough to allow a silver, sliver of self deprecation.
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A Compendium of Stock Clichés
JamesHitchcock4 March 2011
By the mid-eighties received opinion in the movie industry was that the Western was dead and buried. Although opinions differed as to the precise cause of death, it was generally agreed that the final nail in the coffin was the failure of Michael Cimino's massive "Heaven's Gate".

Two men dared to defy received opinion; Clint Eastwood and Lawrence Kasdan.

That Eastwood should stand out against the tide was perhaps unsurprising; he had after all, both starred in and directed some iconic Westerns during the genre's last hurrah in the late sixties and early seventies. That Kasdan should have done so is more of a surprise. In 1985 he was a rising young director who had already made two successful films, the steamy neo-noir thriller "Body Heat" and "The Big Chill", a psychological drama about a group of sixties radicals trying to cope with the more conservative climate of the eighties. It was therefore perhaps a surprise that he should choose a traditional Western as his third film.

The film tells the story of four cowboys- Emmett, Paden, Jake (Emmett's brother) and Mal- who travel to the town of Silverado, where they help free the town from the grip of a ruthless rancher and his corrupt sheriff. Anyone familiar with the Western genre will realise that that is not exactly an original plot- it goes back at least as far as something like "Dodge City" from the late thirties, and probably much further- but in fact the storyline is more complex than that brief summary would suggest, with each of the four being given a back-story. All four have good reason to want revenge against the rancher, McKendrick.

In the sixties and early seventies there had been a trend towards "revisionist" Westerns, films like Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch" or Altman's "McCabe and Mrs Miller", which reacted against traditional portrayals of the Old West and tried to deglamorise it or debunk its mythology. Like all revolutions, however, this one gave rise to a counter-revolution, in this case films which quite defiantly celebrated the heroic Legend of the West. Most of John Wayne's later Westerns, such as "True Grit" or "The Cowboys" can be seen as anti-revisionist in this sense, and "Silverado" is another example. Kasdan was setting out to celebrate, not call into question, traditional ideas of the West; his is a West where the heroes are heroic, the villains villainous and the men in the metaphorical white hats always come out on top.

Most of the cast play their parts well, including the two Kevins, Costner and Kline, as the brothers Paden and Jake, Brian Dennehy as the villainous sheriff and Danny Glover as the black cowboy Mal. (The presence of a black cowboy is one of the few things to set the film apart from old-time Westerns, which were normally made on the mistaken assumption that there were no African-Americans living west of the Mississippi). Scott Glenn, however, is rather dull as Emmett, and former Python John Cleese is horribly miscast as another sheriff, whom he plays as an upper-class Englishman. This is not necessarily inaccurate- doubtless there were English immigrants in the West- but Cleese's style of acting has always been more suited to comedy than to serious drama.

The main problem with the film is that Kasdan does not really succeed in bringing anything new to the Western genre in the way in which one of his stars, Kevin Costner, was to succeed in doing with "Dances with Wolves" a few years later- or indeed as he himself was to do in his next Western, "Wyatt Earp", which also starred Costner. The other well-known Western from this period, Eastwood's "Pale Rider" is not particularly original either; in many ways it is an unacknowledged remake of "Shane". It is, however, a handsome, well-made film with an iconic performance from Eastwood himself as the mysterious, possibly supernatural, Preacher.

"Pale Rider" may recycle one or two well-worn situations, but "Silverado" seems to be a compendium of nearly every stock cliché from the previous fifty years of making Westerns- the villainous rancher, the equally villainous lawman, the wagon train, the cattle stampede, the man wrongly accused of murder, the man seeking revenge for the murder of his father, the final climactic shoot-out in the main street of the town. Only the cavalry and the Indians are missing. Twelve years earlier Mel Brooks had done this sort of thing for laughs in "Blazing Saddles"; Kasdan seems to be expecting us to take it seriously. He may have been hoping to reverse the decline of the Western, but unfortunately "Silverado" is a film which unconsciously reveals one of the reasons for that decline, namely that so many Westerns had been made that it became difficult to say anything about the West that had not already been said. Kasdan's next film, "The Accidental Tourist", was to be much better. 5/10
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Silverado Review
dbryn9 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
As a screenwriter, I can see how this movie was made and I'm taking notes NOT to do this in my own work. With four characters, none are developed enough to create strong empathy for anyone. In fact, perhaps the strongest empathy created is to Mal, who loses a father and witnesses the shooting of his sister - yet Mal isn't perceived as the main 'hero'. Of the other main characters, Jake (Costner) simply tags along acting goofy, yet he has one of the better performances of the bunch. Emmett has no clear motivation in the story until the last 40minutes. Paden's development is weak and he finally befriends the bartender over an hour into the movie. Knowing her for only a 24hr period (and not in a romantic way), he's willing to step aside and watch his friends get shot up so that she won't get fired? It's not believable. In my opinion, the story doesn't work and surprisingly some of the acting looked like... acting. It didn't seem natural. At the 1hr 45min mark I was hoping the movie would end and 30minutes later I was granted satisfaction. If this film can be considered one of the better westerns, it's no wonder the western has disappeared over the past twenty years.
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Who was running this show?
frisco800827 June 2006
I just watched the later part of this movie and was startled at the mediocrity, given all the big names. Most of the stars seemed miscast, no one seemed to draw acting talent out of the stars. Must have been done at studio behest only. Phoned in, if you know what I mean, but an expensive phone call. Somehow Costner didn't even look appealing, Klein looked out of time, Dennehy looked like a canned sheriff, Goldblum also seemed like he was dressed up for the wrong century. Wonder why they bothered unless someone up high had a thing about doing a Western movie like the other studios were doing. Oh well, everyone went on to better work. Compare to Costner in Open Range and you will see a man working off a passion.
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Solid western with a nice sense of humor
jjnxn-15 May 2013
Expansive western updated somewhat to modern sensibilities. Kasdan obviously has great affection for the westerns of old and never strays too far from the traditions of the genre while still making them seem fresh. He's aided by a great production team who make sure everything feels lived in and the cinematographer takes full advantage of the sweeping vistas to give a feel of the old west. Another advantage the film has is the great cast the director has assembled. The four leads, Kline, Glenn, Glover and Costner, make a terrific team with Kevin Costner especially standing out. He's never been this lively and likable on screen since unfortunately. There really is no weak link in the entire film but some of the others who stand out are Linda Hunt, tough but gentle as saloon keeper Stella and Brian Dennehy whose character could have been just a great hulking bear of a villain but because of the magnetism he brings and the way he plays the part with a twinkle in his eye makes him far more interesting. This is something that is talked down nowadays, a rollicking good time at the movies. Highly recommended.
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