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.
If there was ever a psychedelic western movie, this has to be it. It's so bizarre, at least compared to most westerns, that it was tough for me to write this review. I stopped and re-started several times. Where to start?
I just found it great fun, an entertaining film that's always a kick to view, and what more you can ask? Being someone who is very much into visuals, great cinematography and unique approaches to camera-work, this film provided all of that and more, such as an interesting story with whacked-out characters.
I love narration and John Hurt's description of the goings-on here was just great to hear. He played "Charlie," an Englishman with a gentleman's vocabulary that was in stark contrast to the hardened outlaws, led by 'Wild Bill' Hickok himself, played by Jeff Bridges. Ellen Barkin plays "Calamity Jane," and few women of the 1980s and '90s played foul-mouthed, hard-but-sexy women as convincingly as Barkin.
In addition to Hurt, Bridges and Barkin, other fun characters included "California Joe," Hickok's gravel-voiced friend who doesn't say much but when he does, you hear some some of the longest sentences ever uttered. Daid Arquette plays a very strange villain, the man who became famous for shooting Wild Bill. He acts strange and talks as if he has a mouthful of marbles. James Remar, another mean-looking tough guy, is a hired killer. Christina Applegate, Bruce Dern, Margoe Gortner, Keith Carradine and assorted other characters all add to this strange tale, strange in its telling and even stranger in its visual style.
Some of the film is in flashback, which is seen in startling black-and-white and mainly features Diane Lane, who is flat-out gorgeous and maybe the most intriguing person in the film. One of the flashbacks has the film deliberately overexposed with wild dream-like images.
No western "purist" admits to liking this but I love the genre and I put this near the top of my list of favorite westerns. So, sue me!
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