The weapon of choice for John Smith is the government model Colt 1911 A1 .45 caliber automatic, of which he carries a brace in a double shoulder holster rig. In one scene, it is evident that he also carries upwards of twenty-five spare 7-round magazines for his pistols.
Walter Hill later said, that he and Bruce Willis "were not close when we did the film", but "I liked working with him. It was impersonal. Classic, 'I know what you mean. You want me to be a Bogart, Mitchum kind of guy' and I said 'Exactly. Let it happen.' He then took that and gave what I thought was a very good performance. I always sensed there was a kind of core resentment that Bruce felt he should be more appreciated for his talents. At the same time I think there is a limitation, that he does certain things better than others, and he hasn't always chosen so wisely."
One of the three big-budget, star-driven films that indie outfit New Line Cinema released in 1996. Like the other two films (The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)) the film underperformed at the box-office.
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.
When Sheriff Galt is driving Smith and Joe out to Slim's Roadhouse to watch Doyle's mob massacre the Strossi mob, you can see that there is a bullet hole in Galt's windshield. In a scene that was filmed but cut, there was a longer speech from Galt than what is shown in the movie. Originally, after Joe helped pull Smith out of his hiding spot, Smith tracked down Galt and took his gun. He then forced Galt to drive him out to the roadhouse. During the drive, and Galt's speech during the trip, he made a smart ass remark to Smith who then shot at Galt from the back seat, hitting the windshield. While this part was cut in the film, it is included in the movie tie-in novel.
In the movie tie-in novel, which like most tie-in books, is based off of the original screenplay before it is rewritten into a final draft for the film. Two key changes from the novel/first screenplay and the final film are: 1. Instead of the owner of the Red Bird being a man named Joe Monday, it was a middle-aged woman named Dixie Monday. 2. There is an additional explanation as to why Smith was passing through Jericho other than the stated reason in the film of him heading to Mexico as an outlaw on the run. He went to Jericho looking for an associate who was supposed to meet Smith and give him fake IDs to help him escape. The man in the coffin in the window of the Undertaker's Parlor was supposed to be that contact. He had gotten himself killed by Doyle's men.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Walter Hill's original cut of the movie was over two hours long. Before Hill edited the final theatrical version his rough cut was used to edit the trailers for the movie, which is why there is lot of alternate/deleted footage shown in them, including many alternate takes, different edits of some scenes, extended versions of scenes, some extra lines of dialogue, shots and parts of deleted scenes including an additional shootout sequence between two gangs and an alternate ending in which Hickey is killed by Smith in a different way. Some promotional stills and pictures also show several deleted scenes.
Just before the penultimate shoot-out, John returns to the hotel. The short scene starts with a shot of a framed photograph hanging on a wall and then tracks to the outside. The photograph is of Wild Bill Hickock.
Originally, Smith's confrontation with Doyle and Hickey was going to take place in front of the Alamo Hotel (where Smith hangs a tommy gun off of the machete on the post). Smith was going to shoot Doyle in the crotch (as revenge for raping and enslaving Felina) and then blow his brains out. He would then slowly shoot down Hickey. A portion of this scene is included in the theatrical trailer which shows Hickey clutching his tommy gun and staggering as he croaks, "I'll see you in hell."