Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobin Bell, Roberts Blossom, Kevin Conway, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, Pat Hingle, Gary Sinise, Mark Boone Junior, Olivia Burnette, Fay Masterson, Raynor Scheine, Woody Strode
Written by: Simon Moore
Directed by: Sam Raimi
MPAA Rating: R for western violence
Running Time: 107
Date: 02/10/1995

The Quick and the Dead (1995)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pluck of the Draw

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sam Raimi's sixth film was supposed to be his mainstream debut, but it mainly marks Sharon Stone's triumphant return to B-movies, where she belongs. Hence, because it is a B-movie, it failed with the mainstream critics and audiences.

Raimi's movie borrows heavily from classic spaghetti westerns, such as Sergio Leone's "Man With No Name" trilogy, but Raimi has a style of his own, and plenty of it. The movie opens with a long tracking shot inspired by, but not necessarily borrowed from, Leone. When "the stranger" rides into town, she rides past the local coffin maker, just like in A Fistful of Dollars, but this time, the coffin maker is Woody Strode, a great Western actor from John Ford's Sergeant Rutledge and Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. It has a wink to it. In the end, it's all Raimi.

The Quick and the Dead revolves around a rather gruesome contest of quick draw. All the sharpshooters around come to town to enter this contest, run by John Herod (Gene Hackman), to compete for a trunkload of money. Herod hosts the contest every year, and always wins. The gunfighters include Ace Hanlon (Lance Henriksen) and Leonardo DeCaprio as "the Kid." (Not Billy, just "the Kid.")

The movie rolls inevitably toward its conclusion, but with style and flair. It tosses in a few surprises, and it's always a lot of fun to watch.

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