2 firemen in a burning building get a treasure map. Stolen gold church items are hidden in a closed down factory in St. Louis. Once there, they're trapped in by a black gang considering it their territory. Lots of shooting.
Maverick Writer and Director Walter Hill's version of the famous Wild Bill Hickok legend is a dreamscape western that is told entirely in flashback. Hickok's friend Charley Prince (Sir John Hurt) narrates the events of Wild Bill's life while sitting at Bill's graveside. Hickok is played by Jeff Bridges as a mean, high-spirited, but gallant outlaw. He wanders the West, adding to his reputation with some well-chosen gunfights, and he meets up with characters such as Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin), who becomes his sidekick for a time. After becoming a legend, Hickok signs up for a stint with Buffalo Bill Cody's travelling variety show. Eventually, he falls in love with Susannah Moore (Diane Lane), and his love leads him to tragedy in the town of Deadwood, South Dakota.
The team of Producers Richard D. Zanuck and Lili Fini Zanuck had optioned Peter Dexter's novel "Deadwood" after they hired Walter Hill to write the script for Rush (1991). The Zanucks said they were interested in the project, because it explored the nature of celebrity in a Western context. "Figures like Wild Bill were like rock stars", said Lili. "They had sex appeal." See more »
The whole sequence with the hired gunmen is fiction. Jack McCall worked alone. His reason for killing Wild Bill is disputed but it was thought to be either being embarrassed by Will Bill paying for his breakfast that morning or being paid to do it by gamblers frightened that Wild Bill might become Deadwood's sheriff. See more »
[Voiceover about Hickock]
He fashioned himself as just an ordinary man in no way special. That was adeception. By luck or design it had fallen to him to play the hero's part, and to the end he embraced his fate.
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Muddy, angry, two-fisted tale of revenge in the Old West...
Historians may scoff, but Walter Hill's "Wild Bill" is an absorbing and intriguing western with elegiac overtures yet much of the emphasis placed on the battles. Jeff Bridges does a fine job as scruffy, mangy, weathered James Butler Hickok in the 1870s Midwest, getting into brutal fights while doing nothing more than standing at a bar (John Hurt's narration tells us, "Being 'Wild' Bill was in itself a profession."). Ellen Barkin plays Calamity Jane like a lovestruck toughie who clucks behind Hickok, waiting for a commitment; David Arquette is Jack McCall, a young man defending the honor of his mother, whom Hickok loved and left. Occasionally, director Hill hits a stumbling block (there's an inconsequential bit with Keith Carradine as Buffalo Bill Cody which disconnects the mood, and also a black-and-white flashback filmed in high-contrast where Hickok attempts to talk sensibly with a no-nonsense Indian tribe). Still, the hand and gun bouts are fully charged with adrenaline, and there's a genuine feel for these sad, meandering people that recalls strong sections from other westerns, particularly "McCabe and Mrs. Miller". A bumpy film, but not a bad one at all. **1/2 from ****
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