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Western films, from silent to today

Unforgiven (1992)

Unforgiven (1992) DVD coverAn insulted cowboy takes a knife to a whore’s face in the town of Big Whiskey. As punishment, Sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) decides the cowboy and his friend should deliver seven horses to the saloon owner the following spring. Oh, and if they don’t show, he promises they’re in for a whipping.

Outraged, the other working girls in Big Whiskey pool their savings and offer a $1,000 reward to anyone who will kill the two cowboys. While an aging gunman known as English Bob (Richard Harris) shows up in town, Little Bill beats him to a bloody pulp as a warning to anyone else thinking about collecting that bounty.

Well, three other men are heading to Big Whiskey to do just that. A youngster who’s given himself the nickname The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) and claims to have killed five men lures Will Munny (Clint Eastwood) out of retirement with the promise of some quick cash. And Munny invites old partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) to ride along.

Fulfilling their mission might not be as easy as they think. Daggett rules his town with an iron fist and when Munny shows up in the saloon wearing a six-gun – firearms are prohibited in town limits – he beats him much the same way he beat English Bob.

Then there’s the fact that The Schofield Kid has never killed anyone and suffers from vision problems. As for Ned, well, he’s simply lost his taste for killing.

Rating 5 out of 6Review:

The film earned Clint Eastwood a best director Oscar and became one of just three Westerns to ever win the Oscar or best picture – “Cimarron” (1931) and “Dances with Wolves” (1990) being the others. It also marked Clint’s final Western.

And it’s so different in tone from the Westerns the preceded it. Gone is the gunfighter as a romantic character. The heroic gunfighter? Well, there’s nothing very heroic about firing three rounds from a six-shooter into a man’s chest while he’s sitting in an outhouse. Or about blasting an unarmed saloon owner away with a round from a shotgun.

Eastwood’s character has been sober and well-behaved for 11 years when the film opens; he was “cured” of his evil ways by his deceased wife and is trying to raise their two children on a farm, though he’s not a very good farmer.

When he decides to ride off with The Schofield Kid – a youngster eager to prove his manhood through violence – he’s not a very good gunman anymore either. He has trouble mounting a horse. He’s lost his touch with a six-gun. It’s not until a friend is killed that he – at least temporarily – rediscovers the killer in himself.

Anna Levine plays the whore who is cut up in the opening scene; Frances Fisher plays the whore who comes up with the idea of offering the reward. One nagging plot point: Would whores who put a bounty on the heads of two cowboys really be allowed or be able to stay in the town where they’ve been working?

This marked the feature film debut of Jaimz Woolvett , who previously had appeared in a host of TV roles. Saul Rubinek is a writer of Western fiction who arrives in town with English Bob and hangs around to hear more tales of the romantic West from Little Bill.

Directed by:
Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood … Bill Munny
Gene Hackman … Little Bill Daggett
Morgan Freeman … Ned Logan
Richard Harris … English Bob
Jaimz Woolvett … The Schofield Kid
Saul Rubinek … W.W. Beauchamp
Frances Fisher … Strawberry Alice
Anna Levine … Delilah Fitzgerald
Tara Frederick … Little Sue
Beverly Elliott .. Silky
Lisa Repo-Martell … Faith
Josie Smith … Crow Creek Kate
David Mucci … Quick Mike
Rob Campbell … Davey Bunting
Anthony James … Skinny Dubois

Runtime: 131 min.

Memorable lines:

Strawberry Alice: “Just because we let those smelly fools ride us like horses doesn’t mean we gotta let them brand us like horses.”

William Munny: “My wife, she cured me of that. Cured me of drinking and wickedness.”

Deputy: “Jesus, Clyde. You’ve got three pistols and you’ve only got one arm for Christ’s sake.”
Clyde: “I don’t want to get killed for the lack of shootin’ back.”

Little Bill Daggett, after whipping Ned Logan to get information on his accomplices: “Now Ned, them whores are going to tell different lies than you. And when their lies ain’t the same as your lies … Well, I ain’t gonna hurt no woman. But I’m gonna hurt you. And not gentle like before … but bad.”

Will Munny, after Kid has confessed he just shot his first man: “Well, you sure killed the hell out of that fella today.”
Schofield Kid: “Hell, yeah. I killed the hell out of him, didn’t I? Three shots while he was taking a shit.”
Will: “It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man. You take away all he’s got. And all he’s ever gonna have.”
Schofield Kid: “Well, I guess he had it comin’.”
Will: “We all have it comin’, Kid.”

Little Bill Daggett, after Will has gunned down the saloon owner: “Well, sir, you are a cowardly son of a bitch! You just shot an unarmed man.”
Willl Munny: “He should have armed himself if he’s gonna decorate his saloon with my friend.”

Little Bill Daggett: “ You’d be William Munny out of Missouri. Killer of women and children.”
Will Munny: “That’s right. I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. And I’m here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you did to Ned.”

Little Bill Daggett: “I don’t deserve this… to die like this. I was building a house.”
Will Munny: “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

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