Two Arkansas firemen, Vince and Don, get hold of a map that leads to a cache of stolen gold in an abandoned factory in East St. Louis. What they don't know is that the factory is in the ... See full summary »
Maverick writer-director Walter Hill's version of the famous Wild Bill Hickok legend is a dreams-cape western that is told entirely in flashback. Hickok's friend Charley Prince (John Hurt) narrates the events of Wild Bill's life while sitting at Bill's graveside. Hickok is played by Jeff Bridges as a mean, high-spirited, but gallant outlaw. He wanders the West, adding to his reputation with some well-chosen gunfights, and he meets up with characters such as Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin), who becomes his sidekick for a time. After becoming a legend, Hickok signs up for a stint with Buffalo Bill Cody's traveling variety show. Eventually, he falls in love with Susannah Moore (Diane Lane), and his love leads him to tragedy in the town of Deadwood, SD.
Walter Hill said that Jeff Bridges was "an actor I greatly love... a very nice man, decent, hard working, got along well, no problems", but that there "was always a kind of tension between Jeff and myself" because "Jeff does a lot of takes, I don't. My focus is very intense, but when it gets to be you just doing it again and again, I lose it, and I find an awful lot of performers go stale. He would always have an idea he thought he could make something better." See more »
At the time of his death, Wild Bill was married to Agnes Thatcher Lake, a 50-year-old circus proprietor. He married her five months previously. Interestingly, Calamity Jane said in her autobiography that she was married to Wild Bill, although no records have been found that support this claim. See more »
[Voiceover about Hickock]
He fashioned himself as just an ordinary man in no way special. That was adeception. By luck or design it had fallen to him to play the hero's part, and to the end he embraced his fate.
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"The hardest steel is forged in the hottest fires..." The Wild West in the years following The Civil War must've been very close to the West as Walter Hill envisions it here; if not in fact, then most certainly in tone. Life was cheap: pick up any one of the magazines or books devoted to same and take a gander at the bodies on display in storefronts and on boardwalks (or laid out in the sun, or dangling from the limbs of trees). The man who walked away from a gunfight was the man who got there first with the most. He what hesitated, was lost. Jeff Bridges as WILD BILL is a man with a hair-trigger; he HAD to be. (Otherwise, he would've been BELLY-UP BILL, and a lot less interesting.) He literally fights- with fists or with guns- at the drop of a hat. Not the kind of man you take lightly. He drowns his sorrows in booze and pipes and the black and white flashbacks (with the camera canted just enough to suggest an off-kilter dream state) are great. See this one because you like hard-hitting, no-nonsense westerns or because you prefer superior craftsmanship- but SEE it; to miss it would be to pass up one of the finest westerns to ever come thunderin' down the trail.
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