http://letterboxd.com/barnett/film/the-quick-and-the-dead-1995/2/ A Stranger arrives to a town in the outskirts that hosts a gunfight competition, under the rule of vindictive mayor. Along the way she meets a variety of gunslingers and victims. The closer she gets to end of the competition the more the motives of everyone involved are revealed. This is a curious example of 1990s cinema as a package or product. The movie is a combination of evolving approaches. At once it’s a “deal” for the lead actor and producer Sharon Stone, on a hot streak after BASIC INSTINCT. The script, from Simon Moore (TRAFFIK), was a hot item written for spec, the director Sam Raimi was brought in to give the movie a style to make it stand apart from the average studio product. The movie was also reportedly re-written a few times over John Sayles, Joss Whedon and well as the original writer. The movie its self was produced with a gang of international producers and resources from England, Japan and the U.S.A. That is not unlike the “spaghetti westerns” that inspired the movie itself. Ultimately this not an ugly but beautiful thing that the European counterparts could be provide like DJANGO KILL...IF YOU LIVE SHOOT! Yet that’s not for a lack of trying. Instead this feels more like a movie where too many disciplines are working against each other. The movie is a mixed success. It is intermittently entertaining and full of clashing aesthetics. It is inconsistent yet very productive. To top it off, QUICK was released at a time when Westerns, of the Revisionist sort anyways, were becoming reassessed. TOMBSTONE was a popular western at the time. Critics were comparing QUICK to THE WILD BUNCH, which had been re-released in 1995 and the cinema of Clint Eastwood, riding high after THE UNFORGIVEN. That was really unfair for the same reasons we don’t compare George O’Brian’s RKO movies to Sergio Corrbuci’s THE GREAT SILENCE. No, this is not based on the novel by Louis L’amour, with was adapted in 1987 as a TV movie with Sam Elliott. Still it is watchable and interesting. The only westerns I can really compare it too in terms of tone and convention are the 1930s Cowboy flick with Bob Steele or the Sergio Corbuci’s “comedy” Westerns with Franco Nero like THE MERCENARY or COMPANEROS. Corbucci had no problem putting in some sight gags and punchlines to break up the violence, costume pageantry and political commentary. The movie works best when we see the various characters reveal themselves among their small, neurotic interactions. Examples are seeing Pat Hingle as a bartender too scared to pick up a gun while a child is being attacked. There is the comparing and contrasting of guns and ammo between Hackman and Leonardo DiCaprio in a dime store, or Hackman calling the bluff of Lance Henrickson. The story itself isn’t much to expand on. The motivations are pretty typical by Sergio Leone standards. This would have been more intriguing if had been more about the competition than a revenge plot. The cast is remarkable and is pretty much the reason to see this. Part of the fun is seeing the vast difference in age between the actors and also anticipation and placement of their careers. Gene Hackman gives a scary performance as the town mayor, John Herod. He pretty much does what Robert Duvall would have done if Duvall had portrayed Lex Luthor. Two of the then upcoming actors are Russell Crowe as Cort, a Marshal turned Preacher who gets pitted into the contest and Leonardo DiCaprio as "The Kid", a champion sharpshooter. Lance Henrickson as Ace, who would soon be playing Frank Black on Fox’s MILLENNIUM, is on hand a loud mouth show-off in terms of card playing, marksman, and wardrobe. Jonothan Gill as Spotted Horse is on the level of Hackman and Henrickson as an Indian who believes that he is impervious to bullets. I’d love see more Westerns with this guy? We even have the alien looking Tobin Bell, later of the SAW series. Also on hand are Keith David, Kevin Conway, Mark Boone Junior (that crooked cop from BATMAN BEGINS. Not to be confused with the other be overweight crooked cop from Tim Burton’s BATMAN) and Gary Sinise. This even proved to be the last movie for Roberts Blossom and Woody Strode. Look closely and you can find Scott Spiegel and Bruce Campbell. While it is nice to see Gary Sinise in this, his part is related to what amounts to an unnecessary sub-plot. As a 1990s touchstone, Sharon Stone gets kind of lost among the characters in her own story. It’s not that she gives a bad performance. She is supposed to be slightly unsure of herself, a Babe in the Woods, among almost carnival like surroundings. She does perform that aspect as well as one can get. Yet, how can anyone standout among cast of marauders like that? It’s almost as if her performance is not fully formed or incomplete. There is a punchline missing from her cadence. Perhaps it has something to do with her stardom at the time. I liked her better in CASINO and pre-BASIC INSTINCT appearances as a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like in STARDUST MEMORIES, a bratty starlet in IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES, her Cannon/ Quartermain fodder, or as the "wife" in TOTAL RECALL. Allegedly, Raimi had a difficult time working with some of the elder statesmen like Hackman and Pat Hingle; they were less inclined to Raimi’ sleight of hand camerawork. Pat Hingle was even quoted as “John Huston would be spinning in his grave” or something to that effect. Yet Lance Henrickson supposedly had a blast. He was also more accustomed to the A/V train-set that a movie could be having been directed by James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, John Woo and even Sidney Lumet. Afterwards, Raimi’s movies like A SIMPLE PLAN have been more natural but also less eye popping, with fewer gags and more official in his quirkiness like the Sony SPIDER-MAN series and Disney’s OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. For years, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD felt like the last Sam Raimi movie. In some ways it still does. For all its faults, director Sam Raimi does a solid job of presenting this less as a western and more as Magic Lantern Light Show. It’s more like Sam Raimi’s version of a Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. There is some fun sleight of hand and it’s still one of the more playful movies in a movie theater, outside of animation. Dime store novels have as much to do with our perceptions of The Wild West as any historical document or eyewitness account. That’s where this movie works better as a motion picture version of a Pulp paperback cover than as homage to Leone.