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  1. "For a Few Dollars More" is the second movie in Director Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" or "Man with No Name Trilogy" (depending on your preference). Unlike its predecessor, "A Fistful of Dollars" (which is completely unrelated in plot), there's a chance you'll recognize an actor other than Clint Eastwood - Lee Van Cleef plays a memorable supporting role as a competing bounty hunter to Eastwood (if - and only if - you've watched "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," Van Cleef is one of Valence's henchmen in this clip (most noticeable upon exiting the restaurant). Also, instead of two family clans fighting, there is a singular, despicable villain in the character of Indio (Gian Maria Volontè), whom film director Alex Cox described as "the most diabolical Western villain of all-time." Although more concise, and "tighter" in story line than "Fistful," this film is still, as Roger Ebert said, "composed of situations and not plots." If you're a younger reader, and have heard of the term "Spaghetti Western," but don't quite know what it means, all you need to do is watch this trilogy, and you'll understand completely - these movies are to Westerns what strip-mall Chinese-American restaurants are to Chinese cuisine. They're not bad, mind you, but they're really closer in spirit to the Wuxia martial arts films of China, than the beautiful masterpieces of John Ford (think, cheap dubbed martial arts fights with people doing triple somersaults in the air before kicking). Okay, they're not *that* bad, but they're sort of in the same vein. If you're only going to watch one of these first two, make it this one (I don't remember the final film. "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly," well enough to comment right now, and after just the first two movies, I'm pretty much "Spaghetti-Westerned out") - it's more coherent, and has better character development and story arc. Clint Eastwood is *perfect* in his roles, and you can easily see how he became a screen legend, but these movies just aren't all that great - they're "fun" for young adults, but I doubt they were serious threats at the Cannes Film Festival. *** SPOILER FOLLOWS *** Can anyone explain why Eastwood left with the sack of money at the end? He was a bounty hunter, yes - a killer - but he didn't come across to me as dishonest. Was he going to give it back to someone?
  2. For those wishing to watch all the films in Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name Trilogy," (or "Dollars Trilogy," if you prefer), all three were released in America in 1967, but they were filmed in Spain in the following order: 1964 - "A Fistful of Dollars" 1965 - "For a Few Dollars More" 1966 - "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" You'll be doing yourself a favor to watch them in order, and to pay close attention to names and faces early on in "A Fistful of Dollars" - Clint Eastwood is quite possibly the only actor or actress you'll know in this film, so it's important to sort things out, and to be mindful of both the Rojo brothers, and the Baxter gang - two rival families vying for control of this nasty little pueblo, the fictional San Miguel, just south of the Texas border. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Eastwood rides into San Miguel, and immediately proves his prowess with a gun, earning grudging respect from both factions - the Rojos and the Baxters - and spots a deviant way to profit from the situation, pitting one family against the other. It all sounds very interesting, and this movie is rated *very* highly by almost everyone, but 45 minutes into a 1'40" movie, I think it's pretty damned boring. I know this was Sergio Leone's first "Spaghetti Western," and he felt that American Westerns of the late 1950s and early 1960s had become stolid and dull; but so far, I think *this* is stolid and dull. Well, it has another 55 minutes to sort itself out, and it's only the first of a trilogy, so maybe I should cut Leone - a legend - something of a break, given that I have very limited knowledge of the American Western pre-1964. Leone wanted to offer Eastwood's role to Henry Fonda, but couldn't afford him. Then, his second choice was Charles Bronson, who felt the script wasn't very good (so far, I'm in the Bronson camp). Fully *seven* other actors turned down the role, before Leone reached out to Eastwood, a relative unknown at the time who could be hired on the cheap - the fact that he was the *tenth* choice for the role tells me that this movie might be more about "the making of a star" than "the making of a good movie." Okay, I'm going to keep watching with an open mind, 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating be damned - if this movie ends, and I think it's boring, I'm going to come right out and say so. There's no doubt, however, that Eastwood brings a serious panache to the role, and I can easily see how a star was born with this film. I must admit that Eastwood is playing a fascinating, deadly, and profitable game of chess - but he's neither white nor black; he's controlling the chessboard from up above, wearing both opponents down, piece-by-piece, and pocketing some money each time he does. Also, 1'15" into this film, things have *really* picked up. After a *brilliant* gambit, a terrible turn of events resulted in Eastwood getting the Holy Hell beaten out of him, and all bets are now off - this last 25 minutes is going to be about whether he can survive (and of course, he will). But, wow, has this film taken a turn towards the upside. The Baxters aren't exactly saints, but the Rojo clan is pure evil - they have massacred two groups of innocent people in this movie, and deserve whatever punishment and retribution come their way. And come it did.
  3. I'm watching "Firefox" for the first time since it was released in 1982. I distinctly remember the opening scene, with Clint Eastwood jogging (although, for some reason, I thought I remembered him jogging without a shirt). When I was 21 years old, I thought to myself, 'My *God*, he looks old' (he was 52). Now, my impression when I just saw that same scene was, 'My *God*, he looks young.' Unfortunately, other than seeing the movie in the theater vs. on Amazon, there's only one variable in this equation. (Actually, in a later scene, Eastwood was standing around without a shirt - he really wasn't in top shape for this film, even for a 52-year-old.) I had completely forgotten how blatantly Soviet this film was - sort of like an earlier version of "The Hunt for Red October" (1990) which I thought was just awful. However, I was studying Russian in the late 1980s, and knew enough to pick out the flaws in Red October; when I saw Firefox, Russian was like Chinese to me, so I had absolutely no idea how contrived it was. I do find it interesting just how John McCain-like Clint Eastwood's Vietnam flashback was. I also didn't realize that Firefox, like all of Malpaso's (Eastwood's Production company's) pictures since, has no opening credits after the title was displayed. One thing I'm noticing about Firefox is the incredible attention that's being paid to seemingly mundane detail (which I consider to be a huge asset; others consider it to be dull) - not a lot of action is occurring, but the Soviet atmosphere is being slowly and surely cultivated, despite the film not being shot in the Soviet Union (for Cold War reasons) - I suppose some might find the entire structure ponderous; I find it fascinating, in the way that I find Bruckner's symphonies fascinating. Just don't watch Firefox looking for an "Eastwood action movie," because you're going to spend a lot of time trying to find it. That said, Eastwood's heavily Americanized Russian accent would *never* pass muster when scrutinized by even a casual speaker, much less suspicious KGB agents screening him at a security gate - also, doesn't *anybody* around the perimeter of the ultra-secure facility know what their own pilot looks like? The special effects used for the flying scenes were known as "Reverse Bluescreen" photography, and were pioneered by John Dykstra just for this film - Dykstra was the special-effects lead for the original "Star Wars," and is almost surely a household name to anyone who cares about special effects. When the second Firefox is chasing the first, it becomes *extremely* obvious that this is a riff on Star Wars - you'll know the scene when you see it. Interestingly, not long after this, there's a scene that's a riff on, believe it or not, my favorite scene from "Wings" (1927), one pilot showing respect to the other. And after *that*, there's yet another Star War's riff - recall, "Use the force, Luke." If you want a detailed plot synopsis, there's a good one on *** SPOILER ALERT *** IMDB.
  4. Not only have I never seen "Million Dollar Baby," I know nothing about it other than that it's a boxing movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood and Hillary Swank, and won a Best Picture award - I didn't even know Morgan Freeman was in it until five minutes ago. This falls within that "post-Karen, pre-DR period" where I went a long time without seeing any movies. I spent many years, decades ago, being a student of film, but I let it slip because I got busy with other aspects of life - although I have a lot of catching up to do, it's coming back very, very quickly. Well, for once, I watched the entire film without writing any of the review during the movie - that's because it was so damned good that I didn't want to pry myself away from the film. This movie is a masterpiece, and not only must it surely be Clint Eastwood's finest directorial effort, but Eastwood also *composed the score*! I think that right now, he can take his place as the most important - or legendary - figure in all of Hollywood: He is our generation's version of the stereotypical Hollywood legend. "Million Dollar Baby" goes on my Top 10 List, or Top 20 List, or Top 5 List, or whatever number happens to resonate with me on a particular day. It's not a "boxing movie" any more than "Unforgiven" is a "western." I'm forcing myself to look at this without looking at any awards, but I do know it won Best Picture. I could also see it winning Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and numerous others - in fact, I'd be surprised if it didn't. How much did this movie affect me? I want to hurry up and finish writing this review so I can see an interview with Hillary Swank about the film, just to know she's okay. *** SPOILER ALERT *** Going into the plot would be redundant and pointless. Just allow me to say that "Million Dollar Baby" is one of the finest films I've ever seen, and that it should be among the pantheon of all-time Hollywood greats. How can Clint Eastwood keep getting better-and-better as he keeps getting older-and-older? I enjoyed "Gran Torino," but that was at a whole other level. Note, however, that both films involve Eastwood coming to terms with religion, atoning for past sins, giving up his life for others, and presenting Catholic Priests - not as characters to be mocked, but as supportive figures, which he badly needs. It's as if Eastwood realizes he's approaching the end of life, and he's displaying all his foibles for us on the big screen. Make *sure* to see "Million Dollar Baby" at least once in your life; just do *not* be prepared to come away feeling the way you did after you saw "Rocky." This is one of the best films I've ever seen, but it's also one of the most depressing films I've ever seen, and it's not a "boxing" film per se. I have one question: When Maggie (Hillary Swank) fought for the title, why wasn't she awarded the bout? How is it possible that she wasn't? It would have been *so* much easier to take the ending had she only known that she was, ever so briefly, the champion of the world - which she rightly was.
  5. This probably isn't the best time to be watching "American Sniper," but I do get a childish pleasure out of Clint Eastwood films, and I make a mild effort to watch Best Picture Nominees, even though I realize that's hardly an arbiter of anything but notoriety. Still, it's 2:30 AM, I'm having a tremendous pain flare, and I guess I'm in a "misery loves company" mood, so ... Interestingly, my personal assistant attended Chris Kyle's funeral (long story, that one). I also feel that, since I'm never there, I learn something from war movies, although I realize I'm watching Hollywood, and not reality, so must selectively filter whatever I see. Watching new films also fills a gap which I'd developed over the past fifteen years in terms of general popular culture. I really liked the analogy (at the young Chris Kyle's dinner table) of "sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs," and I guess I'm a classic case of a sheepdog - or I would be if I wasn't so badly hurt. I wish I could protect the unprotected, the weak, the sick, and the disadvantaged, but right now I'm just too badly injured, so I just have to sit back and watch. About 75 minutes into "American Sniper," I'm less convinced this is a "war movie" than it is a biographic about a man who's just doing his job - getting completely absorbed into his job - grisly though that job may be. I can easily see how partisans could either denounce this, or support this, but as pure film, I see this as more of an individual story than some sort of complicated team picture - almost like a perverse version of 'The [hypothetical] Cal Ripken, Jr. Story' (though I have absolutely no reason to think Cal would forsake his family for his job, which Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) ultimately does)' How it progresses in its final hour remains to be seen, but I can certainly understand how this movie polarized the public. Even now (or, perhaps "especially now"), I have a weird, almost sheepish feeling even writing about it, but this post should be taken as a movie commentary; not as any sort of pro- or anti-war stance. (Yes, of course I have strong, personal feelings about Iraq, but they have no place here, and if I betray them - one way or the other - then I have failed miserably). Boy, the contrast between Kyle buying his son a treat from the bubble-gum machine, immediately followed by the auto mechanic turning on his power drill, positively made me (as well as Kyle) shudder. Perhaps this is one of the first signs of Kyle's impending PTSD? Indeed, after I wrote that last sentence, I continued the film, and Kyle met the soldier he saved (the one who lost a leg), as the power drill continues to whir in the background - I'm pretty sure this is an important pivot in the film. The amount of liberty taken with this biopic is substantial - apparently, Kyle didn't have that much association with Mustafa (skillfully expressed in this film by Sammy Sheik), and only wrote one paragraph about him in his book. I don't know much about this particular issue, so if anyone has information to the contrary, please let us know. The shot (from underneath) of Mustafa jumping from one rooftop to another evoked something out of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," i.e., it looked very fake (well, they did say he was an Olympic athlete; but I assumed it wasn't for the Long Jump). Such happy scenes in this film - Ryan "Biggles" Job: "What do you mean, she can trace the diamond to Zales?" A little tidbit I picked up from Amazon X-Ray: "Chris Kyle's father personally told Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper that he would 'unleash Hell' if his son's memory was disrespected in this film. He also said that Eastwood and Cooper were 'men he could trust.'" I don't like the way they "invented" the villain of Mustafa, just to have a villain to root against. It really dumbs down the film - this is a story that should tell itself, and Eastwood (or whoever) felt the need to create a "Bird-Magic" type of rivalry between the two snipers. That might work for the masses, but it doesn't work for me: In real life, people aren't even sure "Mustafa" - or whatever his name was - even existed. That said, even though it was complete fiction, I *loved* the take-out shot in slow motion. Okay, that was one of the *worst* endings to any serious movie I've ever seen. I knew almost nothing about how Kyle died, and I *still* know almost nothing about how Kyle died. I feel cheated as all get out. Like the rest of my movie write-ups, this is obviously not a "review," so much as it is part of a (hopefully) larger discussion. When the day comes that I write a full-fledged movie review - and that day has not yet come - you'll know it; for now, I prefer these discussions to be a team effort among an intelligent, diverse group of movie lovers, hopefully flushing out some interesting and educational things about the films working together as a group. This type of approach could only work if this website was going to be around for the long haul - which it is. If the next commentary about this film comes two years from now, then so be it - we have all the time in the world, or, at least until humanity no longer exists. What I fear the most (and this relates to the film) is that, 100 years from now, inexpensive, devastatingly destructive technology will be available to anyone who wants it, so we, as a species, had better damned sight learn to start loving one-another; otherwise, there won't be anyone left to love, or to hate. Apr, 2013 - "The Legend of Chris Kyle" by Michael J. Mooney on dmagazine.com
  6. I saw this movie when it first came out, and didn't give it much thought; I saw it again (after having recently watched "Unforgiven" (1992) and "Dirty Harry" (1971)), and *loved it*. I don't know when Malpaso Productions (Clint Eastwood's company) became essentially "Clint Eastwood," but this was clearly part of, if not after, Eastwood's breakout, and I'm only beginning to fully realize just what a megastar he is in Hollywood. "Pale Rider" is based on one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and has religious motifs and sub-motifs throughout. It is a deep-thinking, reflective "Western" full of parable and allegory - like "Unforgiven," it's a "Western" in quotes. There's no question that Clint Eastwood is Hollywood - he's an impresario for the masses, even if his work is on a higher plain than many others, many of whom merely drift around for the money. But for mass consumption, Eastwood has done an honorable job, and in the process, has split many a stone, and broken many a seal. Parts about the ending I found a bit over-the-top (the hand reaching out of the water trough (which incidentally Roger Ebert (who I think was a *fine* critic) felt should have been edited out)), and melodramatic (Megan calling out to Preacher, saying "I love you! Thank you!"), but hey, it's Hollywood. I also find it discussion-worthy and interesting whether or not hydraulic mining was a precursor to fracking.
  7. I'd never seen the full movie of "Dirty Harry"; only a few clips from it, e.g., "Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" This line happens very early in the film, and serves two purposes: as character development of the protagonist, Harry Callahan, and as a memorable clip for posterity (*) - so if you watch it, you won't have spoiled a thing. It's also somewhat clumsily acted, and isn't representative of Eastwood in this film - he otherwise does a fine job. Somehow, he manages to inject a boyish smile into the gravest of situations here: A couple other notes: It isn't like there was anything at stake here - even if the bad guy had reached the gun, he wasn't going to get a shot off, and he certainly wasn't going anywhere. This is a great example of a scene contrived to become a classic - think of "I'll have what she's having" in "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993) - probably the all-time greatest one-liner in movie history (which, by the way, took place at Katz's Delicatessen (which just made me think ofMark Kuller, God rest his soul)). Also, this is an unfortunate time in our lives to be glorifying such a scene, but I can assure people who haven't seen the film that Harry Callahan - icy-cold bad-ass though he might have been - was a good guy through-and-through, and someone all viewers would want to pull for. This was a very good police thriller, with a certified looney-tunes villain very well played by Andy Robinson (as an aside, it isn't often a movie of this popularity doesn't even have two actors that most people could name, although the Mayor of San Francisco is played by none other than Dean Wormer himself, John Vernon). Clint Eastwood was (and still is) a damned handsome man. This movie also goes a level deeper than just being a cops-and-robbers crime film. Roger Ebert has a *great* line about the movie - one which you really can't argue against: "I think films are more often a mirror of society than an agent of change, and that when we blame the movies for the evils around us we are getting things backward. "Dirty Harry" is very effective at the level of a thriller. At another level, it uses the most potent star presence in American movies -- Clint Eastwood -- to lay things on the line. If there aren't mentalities like Dirty Harry's at loose in the land, then the movie is irrelevant. If there are, we should not blame the bearer of the bad news." "Dirty Harry" was both directed and produced by Don Siegel, which would be more than enough for an entire career, but he also worked on four other Clint Eastwood films, as well as the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"(1956), "The Shootist" (1976), and many others. On a personal note, Siegel directed two episodes of "The Twilight Zone: "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross" and "Uncle Simon" - I love the fact that, with a little time and effort, Hollywood is closing in on itself, and I'm starting to recognize heretofore obscure names and other things: I guess that, like with anything else in life, a little perseverance eventually pays off. By today's standards, "Dirty Harry" is easy-going violence, with much of it implied (the young boy, for example, who got half of his face blown off). For those who don't know, The Zodiac Killer, who was the inspiration for Scorpio - the antagonist in Dirty Harry - was very much of a real person, although the movie itself is entirely fictional. If this is one of those movies you've always intended to watch, but have never gotten around to doing so, I decided to watch it on a whim last night, finishing it today, and I'm glad I did - it was $3.99 (HD on Amazon Prime) and 102 minutes, both well-spent. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** When they hauled the teenage girl out of the hole, I was wondering how on earth there was 40 minutes left in the movie; the decision to let Scorpio go seems implausible, so at that moment, the movie lost credibility with me (could they not have done a handwriting comparison with the first note that Scorpio wrote? Oops!) However, it's interesting how closely that scene is related to the Ticking Time Bomb Scenario and Alan "The Needle" Dershowitz as pertaining to this one particular issue. In this regard alone, Dirty Harry is an important film that's ahead of its time, although I have no idea whether it was the first movie to directly address this scenario (I'm sure there were variations on this theme that occurred before 1971). Miranda v. Arizona was tried five years before, in 1966, and was surely an inspiration for this. The school bus scene was extremely powerful. I can't imagine what the driver must have been feeling, driving along while the children are singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" - the contrast was painful to watch. But flying away with the kids as hostages? Come on, that's ridiculous. Still, this whole sequence was brutal - however, when Callahan jumps on the bus, the movie turns into something resembling "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981). (*) Oh, by the way, there may have been a third purpose as well.
  8. I've seen "Unforgiven" only once, perhaps when it was released in 1992 (when, to my surprise, it won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman), and Best Film Editing (Joel Cox). At the time, I liked, but did not love, the film, and was surprised when it won the Best Picture Award. Nevertheless, Terry Theise, a devout lover of film, raved about Unforgiven as much as he did "The Natural" (Terry is also a hardcore baseball fan), and I've done very well over the years following his recommendations in both film and literature Also, I remember David Foster Wallace (during a Charlie Rose interview, I believe) mentioning that he loved this movie also - It was time for me to give Unforgiven a second viewing. I am stunned at just how little of the movie I remembered. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** I'll be writing these notes, observations, and trivia as I watch the movie, so if you follow along, in sequence, there won't be any spoilers; just don't go beyond what I've written until you've seen that part of the film: * Scrolling, opening notes reveal that the wife of William Munny (Eastwood) - a known thief and murderer - died of smallpox in 1878; her parents assumed he would be the one to kill her, but they were wrong. Although it's impossible to tell at the time, the opening notes take place against a background of a man in the far distance, not far from a crooked shack in the middle of nowhere, doing some type of digging during a lovely sunset - this is Munny working on his wife's grave, and it's really a beautiful shot. * The film is set in the fictional town of Big Whiskey, Montana in 1880, although it was filmed in Alberta, Canada. * The very first scene is a violent, misogynistic knife attack in a brothel (in the upstairs of Greely's Beer Garden and Billiard Parlor (Don't go West, young woman) - okay, okay, the name's missing an "e" for it to have been Horace Greeley). There's still time for you to back out - this movie is not for the faint of heart, and does not lack for cringe-inducing violence. * "Little" Bill Dagget (Hackman), the sheriff, is called in during a downpour. The prostitute will live, but with disfiguring slash marks across her face. He asks for a bullwhip to be brought, despite the protestations of the madame ("Strawberry" Alice, played by Frances Fisher), who's more in favor of a hanging for such a severe crime against one of her own. * (In case you can't already tell, I'm going to be writing an extremely thorough synopsis and commentary of Unforgiven. There's still time for you to back out - this synopsis and commentary is not for the faint of heart, and will not lack for cringe-inducing OCD. Just whatever you do, please make sure not to read ahead, or you'll spoil the movie for yourself.) * "Skinny" Dubois (played by Anthony James), owner of the saloon (and hence the brothel), produces a "lawful contract' between him and Delilah Fitzgerald, the cut whore (played by Anna Levine), clearly showing he cares more about her as property than a human being (but I suppose that goes without saying). When Sheriff Dagget finds this out (knowing that the assilants are from the Bar-T Ranch), he fines one john ("Quick" Mike (played by David Mucci), the one who did the cutting) five ponies as retribution to Dubois; the other, "Davey-Boy" Bunting (played by Rob Campbell) two ponies, and spares them the whipping much to the frustration and anger of Alice. Ain't nobody gonna want a cut-up whore, but Dagget ordered this to be a simple matter of compensation for damaged property. * The next morning, the six prostitutes, led by Alice, figure out how much money they all have - several hundred dollars between the lot of them. Something is up, but we don't know what - for all we know at this point, they're trying to pitch in for a decent plastic surgeon (if there was such a thing back then). The scene then cuts to a hog farm in Kansas [the opening credits, with Munny in the background, seemed a bit too hilly for the Great Plains, so this must have been further east]. * The hog farm is Munny's, and he's tending in the slop to his sick swine (who have contracted a disease) in front of his children, when a young hotshot killer - "The Schofield Kid" (played by James Woolvett) rides up and introduces himself, taunting Munny, hoping to enlist him as a partner in a paid killing. What The Kid didn't realize is that Munny has reformed, and is living the life that he feels his late wife (who has now been gone three years) would want him to live - he hasn't taken a drink, or killed anyone in over ten years. The Kid then reveals that the prostitutes have pooled together a $1,000 reward for anyone who kills the two johns. Munny declines, and The Kid respectfully rides away, letting Munny know how to find him in case he changes his mind - as Munny watches The Kid ride into the distance, he ponders his poverty and his two children. * Cut to the prostitutes' shack in Big Whiskey, where they all live in a tiny commune. The two attackers ride by with their seven ponies, on their way to give them to Dubois, and the prostitutes silently glare at them - this scene is merely seconds long, but summarizes the state of things quite nicely. * Dubois infers that he's going to be taking a third horse from Davey Boy, and Quick Mike is suddenly pelted with what looks like horse excrement, right outside of Simmons & Borley Meat Market - appropriate, since the prostitutes have gathered en masse, and are pelting the assailants. Other stores nearby are a Blacksmith, Big Whiskey Hotel, and German's General Merchants. Davey Boy offers Delilah a pony in retribution (or, to assuage any residual guilt he has), and Alice scoffs at him while the girls begin pelting them again; yet, there's something about Delilah's tranquil expression for this small act that transcends anger. * Back on the hog farm, Munny pulls out a pistol, and fails spectacularly trying to target shoot; then he pulls out a rifle and nails it on the first shot. "Did pa used to kill folks?" his young daughter asked her brother. Munny ponders things in front of the tombstone of his wife, Claudia Feathers Munny (Mar 1, 1849 - Aug 6, 1878), but you can tell his mind is already made up. This time, it won't be whiskey that drives him to kill; it's poverty: Munny decides to leave his two young children for a couple of weeks, but he can't even mount a horse anymore. * At the brothel, Dubois is unsuccessfully trying to shake down his prostitutes, having heard they have some money. Empty-handed, he then goes out to Sheriff Dagget's property and tells him about the bounty, and Dagget seems determined to stand up for the assailants. * Munny rides up to a property where a very surprised Ned Logan (played by Morgan Freeman) introduces him to his wife, Native American Sally Two-Trees (earlier, Munny told his son to ask Two-Trees for help if he needed any during his absence). Munny tries to recruit Logan as a partner-in-bounty-hunting, and is ultimately successful due to the nature of the crime committed (which has been exaggerated due to multiple re-tellings of the tale, like what happens in the childhood phone game). Munny again has trouble mounting his steed, and hopefully this isn't going to be an ongoing attempt at comic relief because it's just not that funny. * Munny and Logan have dinner around a campfire, catching up on old times, and it's clear that Munny hates his past (and yet, he's going out to kill again - this film may be titled "Unforgiven" for a reason). * Cut to a steam train on the (fictional?) Northwest Railroad, with passengers railing (pun intended) about President Garfield's shooting (Garfield died eleven weeks later). Here, we meet "English Bob" (played by Richard Harris) a British gunfighter also out for the $1,000 bounty. When passengers on the train accuse Garfield's shooter of most likely being a "John Bull," English Bob chimes in and says that no, he was probably French (indeed, the assassin was Charles J. Guiteau, an American with a French name) and then proceeds to put on a remarkable display of pheasant shooting, taking $7 in wager money from another train passenger. * English Bob and his biographer (ironically named W.W. Beauchamp (played by the brilliant Saul Rubinek, whom you *must* see in Star Trek (TNG), Season 3, Episode 22: "The Most Toys") take a stagecoach (which inexplicably has "Expressly Muddy Hauling Chandler" written on the side of it) into Big Whiskey, where they pass a little sign that says, "No Fire Arms in Big Whiskey, Ordnance 14 - Deposit Pistols and Rifles. County Office." They pass the prostitutes' shack, and the prostitutes wave at them. In the next couple of minutes, you get a better view of Big Whiskey's layout: on the left, from near-to-far, is Greely's (the saloon and brothel), a bank, and a restaurant; on the right, from near-to-far, is German's General Merchant, what looks like "Bar" (or, maybe it's Barn - all the signs are in all-capital letters), and, ominously, in the far-right distance, Undertaker. From this perspective, English Bob's stagecoach approaches the camera (which is placed right on the main road). * As English Bob and Beauchamp step from the stagecoach, we see a Deputy, Andy Russell (played by Jeremy Ratchford), glaring at them. The deputy approaches them, sternly reminding them about the ordnance, and English Bob glibly tells him they're carrying no firearms. The scene then cuts to the Sheriff's office, the Deputy cocking a rifle, and saying, "Unarmed, my ass." There are several young, ornery men in the Sheriff's office, and they're not the type of people you'd want to cross. English Bob goes to the barber for a shave, and then asks directions to see Strawberry Alice. The barber told him to go "ask for a game of billiards," even though there are no tables there ("they burned the table in '78 for firewood"). * When English Bob and Beauchamp step out of the barber shop, they are immediately drawn down upon, facing three rifles and a pistol. After some awkward silence, Sheriff Dagget says, "Hello, Bob" - well, it looks like English Bob has something of a reputation, and that Little Bill knows what he's doing. "Boys, this here is English Bob," he says. The two know each other well, from the old days, and when English Bob introduces Beauchamp to Little Bill, he knows he's in trouble. Beauchamp reaches into his bag to pull out a book (to show them he's a writer), and all four weapons are immediately cocked for fear he's reaching for a gun - English Bob quietly says, "Uhh, I wouldn't do that if I were you, Mr. Beauchamp," and Beauchamp procedes to urinate himself. English Bob's "peacemaker" is confiscated, and Beauchamp's book is titled, "The Duke of Death." Little Bill then confiscates a second '32 from English Bob (which English Bob was trying to conceal), and then decks him. Then, when English Bob is down, Little Bill proceeds to (perhaps literally) kick the crap out of him, screaming out warnings to anyone who would come into Big Whiskey for non-existent "Whore's Gold" - he is seriously pissed off, wants no part of any southern bounty hunters riding into town, and is making damned sure that English Bob is going to spread the word when he gets back home. * At this point, the action has been centered around English Bob for so long that you almost forget about Munny and Logan, but the action cuts to them leisurely riding on horseback, approaching Big Whiskey, and after what just happened, you're left fearing for them: Little Bob is not someone you want to cross. Then, out of nowhere, they're being shot at (that's got to be one of the scariest things there is, being shot at, and not knowing from where). Well, it turns out that it's The Schofield Kid, and Munny and Logan yell over at him to stop shooting at them (he didn't know who they were). After some quarreling about how to divvy up the bounty, and a hilarious one-liner by Logan (regarding The Kid's rifle - other than Munny being unable to get on the horse, this is the first thing approaching any type of comic relief, and we're fifty minutes into the movie), the three team up, and keep on riding as a unit. * A relatively extended sequence (almost sixty seconds, complete with acoustic guitar over strings) follows of the three men peacefully riding together through the gentle, autumn landscape, perhaps lulling the viewer into a false sense of serenity. This is very lovely cinematography, but after what just happened to English Bob, I'm certainly not going to be letting my guard down anytime soon. * During the ride, Logan deduced that The Kid was nearsighted, which angered The Kid - who proceeded to rip off Logan's canteen and plug a couple of holes in it. Logan and Munny decided that as long as The Kid could see fifty yards, it was good enough. I'm suspicious of this scene, because it came out of nowhere, and is seemingly unrelated to anything else in the film. * Cut to Little Bill at his desk, perusing "The Duke of Death," holding a sarcastic conversation with English Bob (who's injured so badly he can't even talk) and Beauchamp, both locked away in a cell. Little Bill methodically debunks an entire scene in the book where he was present, and reveals English Bob to have cowardly killed a man who was unarmed (literally, unarmed). * Our three protagonists are trying to sleep by a campfire, on rocky ground, and The Kid is as smug as ever. * Little Bill has let Beauchamp out of the cell, and is spoon-feeding him some wisdom about shooting - the fact that a cool head is even more important than a fast draw. English Bob just has to lie there in the cell, listening to everything because he's so badly injured he can't move or speak. An interesting scene occurs when Little Bill offers a gun to Beauchamp, essentially daring him to shoot. He even allows him to offer the gun to English Bob (who wasn't sure whether or not the gun was loaded). English Bob declines, much to Little Bill's amusement - "You were right not to take it, Bob," Little Bill said. "I would have killed you," he added, emptying the live ammunition onto the ground. "We could use some rain, Mr. Beauchamp," Little Bill says. * Cut to Munny, Logan, and The Kid, riding in a downpour. Logan offers Munny a slug of whiskey, and Munny declines. * Beauchamp, sniveling man that he is, switches loyalty from Engligh Bob to Little Bill, and decides to stay in Big Whiskey as English Bob is ridden out of town (Beauchamp is now writing Little Bill's biography instead of "The Duke of Death"). There's a downpour in Big Whiskey, Little Bill's house is leaking like a sieve (he built it himself), and a messenger comes to inform him that three men have just ridden into town, and are at Greely's Tavern - two of them have guns. Earlier, they had ridden right by the warning sign in the downpour, and didn't even see it. * Munny had gotten terribly sick in the storm, and is sitting in Greely's delirious from fever - Little Bill comes in and thinks he's drunk, demanding his firearms. Logan and The Kid are upstairs at the brothel, leaving Munny all by himself in the saloon, surrounded by cocked guns, and having to face an angry Little Bill. It's raining, all right. Little Bill pummels Munny, and word gets up to the brothel that he's been beaten and kicked. Logan and The Kid rush to put their pants on, with Logan (in a moment of much-needed comic relief) tumbles out the window, and rolls down a slanted roof onto the ground outside. Little Bill goes up and slaps Alice for "letting" the two men out the back window. Ned and The Kid find Munny, who had slithered out of Greely's like a snake, doubled over on his horse, and help him out of town and into a makeshift camp. * The Kid, who worshiped Munny, is disillusioned that he could have suffered a beating the way he did (Munny was in an indefensible situation, and probably had a fever of 103). Fortunately, the next day, the rains have passed, and it's sunny outside. The prostitutes - who know full well the three are in town for the bounty - are secretly helping them with shelter and food. Munny remains both terribly ill, and also badly beaten - he is delirious, and not all that far away from death. * Munny has been in-and-out of a febrile state for three days, and when he wakes up, he thinks Delilah is an angel. She tells him Logan and The Kid went out scouting the Bar-T ranch when they saw his fever had broken. An angel-white snow covers the ground now, and Munny and Delilah begin to form a friendship - Delilah tells Munny that Logan and The Kid "have been taking advances" on the bounty by taking "free ones," and then offers Munny a free one. There's a great scene where Munny tells Alice that if he wanted a "free one," he'd want it with her because he thinks she's beautiful - the camera work here is perfect, and as absurd as the situation sounds, it's a wonderfully touching moment between two very scarred human beings. * Our three heroes ambush one of the assailants - Ned only manages to shoot Davey Boy's horse, who falls sideways, and pins Davey Boy, breaking his leg. When it comes time for the coup de gráce, Ned can't pull the trigger (just like Beauchamp couldn't pull the trigger on Little Bill earlier), and Munny reluctantly takes the gun. It becomes painfully clear that Munny, Logan, and The Schofield Kid are about as deadly as The Three Stooges. Munny struggles with shooting the rifle, but manages to connect with his final bullet, but its unclear whether or not its a lethal blow, as Davey Boy crawls behind a rock immediately after being shot. Munny and Logan look at each other - with The Kid yapping non-stop - and realize they don't know what the hell they're doing anymore, and that they shouldn't even be here. As they're riding away, Ned decides he just doesn't have the belly for this any longer, and heads back to Kansas, with Munny promising to drop off his share on the way home. * Word gets around to various people: Little Bill finds out, and sends someone to confine Quick Mike to the Double-T Ranch so he isn't out in the open; a rock comes sailing through the prostitutes' window (only to have Alice scream back, "He had it coming!"). * Ironically, and tragically, they caught Logan riding back to Kansas. Little Bill hauls him into the station, ties him to the jail bars, and whips him like a slave (also ironic, because no reference whatsoever has been made to Morgan Freeman's color during this entire film). Logan doesn't give in despite the tremendous beating, so Little Bill sends someone to fetch the prostitutes in order to compare stories, swearing he'll no longer "be gentle" if the stories don't match up. * At the Double-T, nature finally gets the best of Quick Mike, and he walks to the outhouse. The Kid opens the door, and bushwhacks him while Munny keeps him under cover (What a way to go!) Not unexpectedly, as the two flee, Munny has the same trouble getting on his horse. While Munny and The Kid wait for their payment, one of the prostitutes, Little Sue (played by Tara Frederick) rides up and informs them - to their horror - that Logan has been captured, tortured, killed, and his corpse humiliated. This does not sit well with Munny. As he listens to what happened to Logan, he begins gulping down whiskey - this is the first time during the entire movie that he broke down and drank anything. I would not want to be Little Bill right now. * The Kid swears off killing forever, but Munny is going after Little Bill. He gives The Kid the entire thousand dollars, and tells The Kid to deliver both Munny's and Logan's share to Munny's children, and the rest is for The Kid to keep - to buy a pair of spectacles for his poor vision. If Munny isn't back in a week, then his children are to give half of their share to Logan's widow, Sally Two-Trees. It's pouring down rain, and on the way back into Big Whiskey, the viewer sees, from the point of view of Munny, an empty bottle of whiskey being discarded on the ground. * As Munny enters Big Whiskey, he sees Logan's corpse in a coffin right outside of Greely's, with a sign that says, "This is what happens to assassins around here." As he sneaks into Greely's, Little Bill is buying people drinks, organizing the search party to depart in the morning to chase these "skunks" clear down to Texas. All the viewer sees is the long end of a rifle - the entire bar, full of people, turns around, and there is Munny. * "Who owns this establishment?" Munny asks, pointing his rifle at one of the citizens. At that point, Dubois speaks up, and Munny blows a hole in him. Little Bill looks him in the eye, and says, "Well, sir, you are a cowardly son of a bitch!" (Really? Didn't you just torture someone to death earlier today?) "You just shot an unarmed man!" Munny's - no, *Clint Eastwood's* reply: "Well, he should have armed himself, if he's going to decorate his saloon with my friend." * "All right, gentlemen," Little Bill says, walking towards Munny, "he's got one barrel left. When he fires it, take out your pistols, and shoot him down like the mangy scoundrel he is." * Munny pulls the trigger... * Click. * Little Bill, in his moment of triumph, says, "Misfire. Kill that son of a bitch!" Munny tosses his rifle at Little Bill, giving him just enough time to pull out his pistol. Little Bill gets off a shot, but misses, and Munny nails him. In a superhuman moment that only Clint Eastwood could pull off, he pretty much takes out the entire bar when they start firing at him. Impossible? Of course it's impossible, but it's Clint Eastwood. (Thought of the moment: For a town with such a strict anti-gun ordnance, there sure are a lot of guns.) * "Any man that don't want to get killed, better clear out the back." He lets them go, then slowly walks up to the bar, pours himself a shot of whiskey, and drinks it. He hears a man moaning - it's Beauchamp. "I've been shot!" he said, but he was merely covered with someone else's blood. A complete coward, he starts asking Munny questions about the five men he just killed so he can write about it. * Little Bill's eyes open - he isn't quite dead. Munny shoots some more whiskey, hears Little Bill cocking his pistol, then wheels around and shoots him again. "I don't deserve this," Little Bill says. "To die like this. I was building a house." Munny, looking down at him, replies, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." Little Bill's last words: "I'll see you in Hell, William Munny." Munny, slowly cocking his rifle, says, "Yeah," then points it right at him, looking straight down the barrel into his eyes, fires one last shot right into Little Bill's face, and slowly walks out of the bar, mercifully killing one more person who wasn't quite dead yet. * He walks out, threatening anyone who would dare shoot him, and comes upon Logan's corpse. Exiting the town on his horse, he shouts out orders to give Logan a proper burial, and not to cut any more whores - "or I'll come back and kill every one of you sons of bitches." The prostitutes all come out into the pouring rain, silently watching Munny ride out of town. The camera pans back away in the dead of night, leaving only the torches burning by Logan's body visible in the distance. * "Unforgiven" ends just where it began: with the long shot of Munny walking out to his wife's grave in the sunset. He stands in the distance, as the closing narrative slowly rolls up the screen. In the distance, Munny turns, and disappears.
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