Movie of the Day – The Quick and The Dead

I haven’t given Western movies their due here on Another Plot Device.  It’s not that I don’t love them, it’s that there aren’t a lot of people I know who are fans of the genre.  I think Westerns get this bad rap about being slow pacing and sometimes dull.  Sure the subject matter of man wandering the Southwest and contemplating his life on horseback may not seem like a good time.  Hell even some of the more action paced Westerns are kind of lame when you see the gun fights and clutching of the chest when the our intrepid gunslinger takes down an Indian or some guy in a black trench coat.

Now on the other side of the coin, when you mention Westerns and what makes them iconic, whether or not they watch Westerns, is the showdown in the middle of town.  The gunfight, the quick-draw,  and waiting till the clock strikes noon when both men or women can draw their weapon freely.  It’s all about being the fastest gun in the west and being able to smoothly draw your weapon and drop your opponent.  I dig that aspect of Westerns, seeing the stare down between two people as they are both close to death and their passing will be by the hands of their opponent.  The tension swells, the clock inches closer to noon, and then in an instant, it’s all over.  This is where The Quick and The Dead comes into play…

The story goes, a woman who’s known as The Lady (Sharon Stone) strolls into the town of Redemption, seeking vengeance for her father.  The man who is responsible for her father’s death is John Herod (Gene Hackman) who is Redemption’s ruthless leader.  In order to kill Herod, The Lady must enter into a quick draw contest that would allow her to legally kill the man without fear of getting killed herself by his henchmen.  The contest pulls in some of the best gun fighters out there and even John Herod’s son, Fee Herod (Leonardo Dicaprio) enters the content.  The Lady needs to make some friends in the competition in order to make it far enough for her vengeance to be complete.

The film was as a bomb sadly upon release.  This was Sam Raimi’s sixth film coming off of the cult classic Army of Darkness.  Raimi brings this trademark signature directing skills to the movie, with quick dolly pushes to bring a far off distant object into center frame and my favorite, the close up with a wide angle lens.  He has this way of making a Western movie unique and interesting.  The inclusions of all his little direct trademarks makes the film standout more amongst the expansive Western genre.  It was exciting to get to see this hands on director bring the camera close to the action and making the actors and sequences seem far bigger than they are.

The Quick and The Dead is a fantastic gun fighting movie.  He was able to bring together a strong cast with Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gene Hackman, and Russel Crowe.  Hell Keith David and Lance Henriksen are even showing up in their typical “it’s that guy” role.  Hackman steals the scene though with his awesome mustache twirling and bad guy swagger.  I love when he gets to play the villain in a movie, I mean shit, he was Lex Luthor.  But every one else all play their roles wonderfully and each get their share of screen time.

There is one thing to note about the movie and that is the gun fighting.  Some of the best stylized quick draw scenes ever.  Typically, the gun fights are over in a flash and the defeated person slumps over from a wide angle shot.  In this movie, the Raimi used some jarring camera angles and tight close ups matched to the tick of the town clock tower and every movement of the hand brought us just a bit closer to the action.  It’s this sort of framing and tightening of the scene that brings the tension to a peak and then the payoff happens.  His directing trademarks helped enhance these tense scenes and made it all the more memorable.

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

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