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Last Man Standing (1996)

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A drifting gunslinger-for-hire finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between the Irish and Italian mafia in a Prohibition era ghost town.

Director:

Walter Hill

Writers:

Ryûzô Kikushima (story), Akira Kurosawa (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce Willis ... John Smith
Bruce Dern ... Sheriff Ed Galt
William Sanderson ... Joe Monday
Christopher Walken ... Hickey
David Patrick Kelly ... Doyle
Karina Lombard ... Felina
Ned Eisenberg ... Fredo Strozzi
Alexandra Powers ... Lucy Kolinski
Michael Imperioli ... Giorgio Carmonte
Ken Jenkins ... Capt. Tom Pickett
R.D. Call ... Jack McCool
Ted Markland ... Deputy Bob
Leslie Mann ... Wanda
Patrick Kilpatrick ... Finn
Luis Contreras ... Comandante Ramirez
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Storyline

John Smith is an amoral gunslinger in the days of Prohibition. On the lam from his latest (unspecified) exploits, he happens upon the town of Jericho, Texas. Actually, calling Jericho a town would be too generous--it has become more like a ghost town, since two warring gangs have 'driven off all the decent folk.' Smith sees this as an opportunity to play both sides off against each other, earning himself a nice piece of change as a hired gun. Despite his strictly avowed mercenary intentions, he finds himself risking his life for his, albeit skewed, sense of honor.... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

If you lived in this town, you'd be dead by now. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong violence and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

20 September 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gundown See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$67,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,010,331, 22 September 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$17,600,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$33,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lone Wolf,New Line Cinema See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (CFI)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

New Line Cinema wanted to remake Yojimbo (1961) as a sci-fi film in the vein of Mad Max (1979) and Escape from New York (1981), but Walter Hill insisted on setting it in Depression-era Texas, seeing the rustic landscape as more fitting of his experience directing Westerns. See more »

Goofs

In opening scenes we see "Mr. Smith" coming into town and obviously sweating from the south Texas heat. In subsequent scenes we see gang members in wool suits and wool overcoats. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
John Smith: It's a funny thing. No matter how low you sink there's still a right and wrong. You always end up choosing. You go one way so you can try to live with yourself. You go the other, you'd still be walkin' around, but you're dead and you don't even know it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Bumble Bee Blues
Written by Minnie McCoy
Performed by Ry Cooder
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
farewell to the romantic adventurer
25 June 2006 | by winner55See all my reviews

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - When the Last Man standing first came out, it was hard not to make the connection between that film and Yojimbo (since Yojimbo's script was credited -although not the original source for Yojimbo, an American crime novel, red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammet - Yojimbo's Kurosawa also forgot to credit in his film). But even a critic as astute as Roger Ebert only thought the film was only 'similar' to "Fistful of Dollars" even though the plots of the two films have more in common than that of this film and Yojimbo.

Since then, I have watched all the films several times. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on the matter again.

The Last Man Standing does not hold up as well as I had hoped; the saturated sepia tones of the film now appear to be a mannerist affectation. It was certainly a transitional film for Willis - the role is pretty heavy - but the Sixth Sense rewrote the book on Willis far better than any of his other off-cast roles could, since (unlike the others) it never made any pretense at being an action film. The voice over is a little pretentious. And its clear that Hill let the Gothic tone of the film overwhelm his efforts at black comedy. And oddly enough, despite its violence the film could use more action.

Yet the film remains historically important, if nothing else, because it now appears to have been the last of a cycle. Although even Jean-Claude Van Damme actually appeared in a "Yojumbo" clone - "Desert Heat" - and there have been other attempts to revive Hammett's essential narrative (e.g. the "Doom" robot film by Albert Pyun) the fact remains that the nameless outsider quick on the draw is fast slipping into the realm of pure 20th century myth. He doesn't really belong in the era of Computer graphics, invasions of Iraq, wars against non-existent terrorism. His blood is part whiskey, but it's human blood; and he may be a killer, but he won't be a party to genocide. He's too real, and yet too good, for the 21st century rushing in on us.

I take the darkly sepia-toned Last Man Standing as a final farewell to a hero of the previous century, just as Hitchcock's 39 Steps effectively said farewell to the romantic adventurer of the 19th century. Every era has its heroes; and it is sad that Sanjuro/John Smith/the Man with No Name can no longer be one of ours. It's probably too much to ask, but hopefully someone better - or at least as good - will come along.

-E. J. Winner.


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