25 user 3 critic

The Quick and the Dead (1987)

Not Rated | | Western | TV Movie 28 February 1987
A mysterious stranger rides into a homesteading family's life when they are attacked by a ruthless gang.


Robert Day


Louis L'Amour (novel), James Lee Barrett (teleplay)
2 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Sam Elliott ... Con Vallian
Tom Conti ... Duncan McKaskel
Kate Capshaw ... Susanna McKaskel
Kenny Morrison Kenny Morrison ... Tom McKaskel
Matt Clark ... Doc Shabitt
Patrick Kilpatrick ... The Ute
Jerry Potter Jerry Potter ... Red Hayle
Billy Streater Billy Streater ... Ike Mantle
Del Shores ... Purdy Mantle
R.L. Tolbert R.L. Tolbert ... Johnny Dobbs
Jeffrey Meyer Jeffrey Meyer ... Butcher McCloud (as Jeffrey M. Meyer)
Kurt D. Lott ... Lenny Shabitt
Hardy Rawls ... Joy the Blacksmith
Larry Sellers ... Running Wolf
Bill Stedman Bill Stedman ... Bartender


Duncan and Susanna McKaskel are a young married couple travelling to the West with their son, hoping to start a new life. Along the way, they stop in a small town where they meet a gang of bandits led by Doc Shabitt. After Duncan unintentionally angers the gang, he and Susanna flee the town, but Shabitt leads his men in pursuit of revenge. A mysterious stranger by the name of Con Vallian soon begins helping the family as they try to find a new home and protects them from Shabitt's gang. Written by John Hitchcock

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Sam Elliott did all of his own stunts. See more »


When Red goes off by himself to check out the McKaskels camp he is told by Doc that if they hear a shot they would know he" bought the farm". Bought the farm is an expression that was not used until WW1. See more »


Con Vallian: Shoot to kill. Wounds don't impress them. They've all been shot before.
See more »

User Reviews

Hackneyed plot with mature insights and surprises
29 April 2014 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

RELEASED IN 1987 and directed by Robert Day, "The Quick and the Dead" is a made-for-HBO Western starring Sam Elliott as Con Vallian, a mysterious stranger who helps a family heading West with their conflict with a group of ne'er-do-wells. Vallian's desire is piqued by the wife (Kate Capshaw) and the interest seems mutual. Will the family make it to the Bighorn Mountains alive-and-well or will violence and adultery destroy them?

If you don't remember Kate Capshaw, she was the blond in 1984's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and later married director Steven Spielberg.

In any event, I was impressed with this little-known Western. Although made for cable, it's based on a Louis L'Armour book and is actually better than some theatrically released Westerns. There are some flaws, like the kid's questionable acting skills and the fact that the film was noticeably shot in Northern Arizona rather than Eastern Wyoming, but -- all things considered -- this is a solid realistic Western in the tradition of "Shane" and "Will Penny." Don't expect the mythic spaghetti tone of 1995's big-budget Western of the same name.

Highlights include the breathtaking cinematography, a believable and mature tone, Kate's beauty, a hackneyed plot redeemed by quality characters (like Tom Conti as the settler husband/father), insightful drama & plot surprises and, of course, Sam Elliott as the quintessential Westerner. Really, Elliott is as good or – more likely – better than any Western icon you care to name (Wayne, Eastwood, Cooper, Scott, Stewart, Costner, etc.).

There are mature and insightful themes, like the undeniable connection of Vallian and Susanna. Most of us can relate: You stumble across someone of the opposite sex and instinctively sense a palpable connection, some kind of profound mutual fascination, yet—for whatever reason—pursuing an intimate relationship is not an option. In an entire lifetime you will only experience a handful such 'connections,' or less. These exchanges are permanent because they are so potent they are forever burned into one's psyche.

"The Quick and the Dead" may not be a top-notch Western like "Dances With Wolves" or "The Outlaw Josey Wales," but it's certainly a quality Western and well worth your time.

THE MOVIE RUNS 91 minutes.


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Release Date:

28 February 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Quick and the Dead See more »

Filming Locations:

Flagstaff, Arizona, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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