The Quick and the Dead (1995) (1995)
May 10, 2022 6:02 PM - Subscribe

A female gunfighter returns to a frontier town where a dueling tournament is being held, which she enters in an effort to avenge her father's death.

I post this because, watching this movie yesterday, I had the feeling that it's not really a Western. Sure, it's set in "The West," but the story makes no sense in that setting. It dawned on me that this is really a Japanese chanbara story recast as a Western. In that setting, the staged duels, the cringing "peasants" and the town "headman" that rules with an iron fist conforms to the tropes of a samurai epic. (Contrast to The Magnificent Seven that skillfully adapted The Seven Samurai to its Western setting.)
posted by SPrintF (6 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's not a great movie, but I remember enjoying it immensely.

Gene Hackman chewed so many miles of railroad ties, Russell Crowe in a not-exactly protagonist, DiCaprio in the twilight of his "cute" days, Lance Henrickson was appropriately scummy, and Sharon Stone playing it straight.

The conclusion was satisfying.
posted by porpoise at 6:43 PM on May 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

I watched this last night and literally came here to post about it! How odd. :)

A lot didn't work and a lot did. I found it an odd mix to chew on, aesthetically speaking. I enjoyed the cast and fun to see di Caprio and Crowe before their mega-stardom. But I think some of the best touches were the visuals, like Gene Hackman's shadow with a hole in it after the climactic shoot out.

OTOH: I thought the trauma backstory for Stone's character was poorly handled until the very powerful final flashback--before that it struck me as very by the numbers. I blame Raimi and the writer for that, not Stone. And the one Native American character, eh, I know it was 30 years ago but it reminded me that the Romani in Drag me to Hell is not a great moment in Raimi's career.

It dawned on me that this is really a Japanese chanbara story recast as a Western. In that setting, the staged duels, the cringing "peasants" and the town "headman" that rules with an iron fist

I think this is insightful! My first reaction was that the Samurai/Western overlap is storied enough to not make much of a difference. But you're right; a lot of the touches that seem a bit off would really feel much more natural in a a chanbara, in a way that didn't happen with Seven Samurai.

I don't think this is a problem with the movie--I think the oddness makes the town feel more bottled up, like it's its own little pocket dimension.
posted by mark k at 7:22 PM on May 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

There’s a lot of problematic shit in this movie, some things that made me cringe even when it came out, but there’s so much that’s right with it, visually, aesthetically, it’s a master class in scene economy, and on and on, this might be the movie I have watched the most times. More than Back to the Future or Aliens or any of the StarWarses, more than Blade Runner or Time Bandits or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
I had Harrod’s “This is MY TOWN!” speech memorized for a while.
It’s not a Great Film Of Great Film Cinema, no, but damn is it watchable.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:21 PM on May 10, 2022

It's not a great movie, but I remember enjoying it immensely.

I think it's a masterpiece so YMMV.

Blank Check with Griffin and David just covered this. They do cover the one thing that I think is a misfire in this movie which is piecing out the backstory, it should've all been up front like they did in Finding Nemo.

Sam Raimi makes the most kinetic films, and his style when it's working is incredibly fascinating to me for almost moving from cinema to being alive in a videogame. That probably sounds horrible to some people, very promising to others.

Sharon, Russell, Leo and Gene all are crushing this in different ways, and the final moments between Herod and Kid is a thing that stuck with me. Critical reception of the film has grown immensely since release for what it's worth.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:09 AM on May 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

This movie definitely wins the award for 'movie most often pictured in my head when someone is talking about some other western and I don't figure it out for way too long'.
posted by Acari at 8:10 AM on May 12, 2022

Watched because of that Blank Check episode. I really appreciated the “pocket dimension” feeling as it worked for me as meta-commentary on how artificial westerns are to begin with - the myth has grown to the point where the tropes have no real basis in reality, might as well pump them up to eleven, add some Dutch angles and backflips, and get out the popcorn.
I have heard that Raimi is good at working with actors but hadn’t really seen anything of his except the Evil Dead movies and some spiders men, I will probably continue on to a simple plan because everyone is working SO HARD in this movie. The performances give it a heft that plays against the bonkers cinematography in a really delightful way.
What I’m saying is I had a lot of fun.
posted by q*ben at 10:50 PM on May 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

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