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QUICK AND THE DEAD

THE QUICK AND THE DEAD (1995 - R)

When an unsuspecting, gun-slinging, blonde beauty rides into a sleepy western town where her father’s killer resides, mayhem abounds. As the eve of the town's hosting highly anticipated gun-fighting competition approaches, the able-bodies "quick and the brave" come out of the woodworks, and that means conflict, chaos, and, of course, carnage!

The cast: includes: Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobin Bell, Roberts Blossom, Kevin Conway, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, Pat Hingle, Gary Sinise, Olivia Burnette, Fay Masterson, and Bruce Campbell.

Director Sam Raimi's "The Quick and the Dead" is a lively, spoofy Western.

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Promotional Lines: "Think you're quick enough?"
"You can't ignore her. You can't beat her. You can't resist her. You can't win."

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The basic story involves an evil, lawless Western town, Redemption, "where human life is close to worthless." The town has an annual western gunfight contest, promoted by the heartless Herod who is also the owner, leader, and "ruler" of the town. To win the shoot-out, one of the participants must die. When a woman (Ellen) chooses to take part in the contest, she brings a hidden agenda with her. A huge pot of money is the prize for the one left standing. This year, Herod has kidnapped an old gang member of his, Cort (Russell Crowe), who turned from fighting to become a man of the cloth. Herod hopes to put enough pressure on Cort to force him to fight, showing all that Cort is one of the best with a gun, and hopefully getting him to give up his new way of life.

Of course, Ellen likes the good-hearted, brave Cort, and must find a way to accomplish her quest for personal revenge, without having to kill Cort or being killed by him during the process of the contest. She wants to have her cake and be able to eat it as well.

Gene Hackman is a delight as Herod, the evil man who runs the town of Redemption. Hackman excels as the smiley, crinkly-eyed villain. He brings a juicy, robust energy to the role that makes him fascinating to watch, reaffirming his status as one of America's best character actors.

Sharon Stone gives a weak performance as a female gunslinger. While she looks great in her Western outfits, she alternates between looking tough, and looking scared, and not being convincing with either emotion. Sharon Stone fails miserably to be a female Clint Eastwood, but then what actress COULD fill Clint's boots?

Russell Crowe, then an up and coming actor, does a convincing job as a gunslinger turned preacher.

Gary Sinise also does a good job playing the good Marshall,who was cruelly murdered by Herod years ago before he took over the town.

Leo DiCaprio is convincing as Herod's young son, Kid, a "child-man who wants his father's respect."

My favorite scene involves a shootout between Ellen (Sharon Stone) and Eugene Dred (Kevin Conway). In the pouring rain, Conway runs toward Stone, firing both guns. Stone holds her ground, firing several times. The scene has a power and vividness, like a Western mythological battle of good and evil brought to life.

Director Sam Raimi, who specializes in horror movies, offers this parody on spaghetti westerns, with quick cutting and numerous closeups of squinting eyes and shining guns, offers a lively salute to the style of acclaimed Western director Sergio Leone, who directed classics like "A Fist Full of Dollars" and "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly."

 

If you liked THE QUICK AND THE DEAD you may enjoy A FIST FULL OF DOLLARS, UNFORGIVEN, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, and/or THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY.