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Name: TWILIGHT TIME
Number: TWILIGHT302-BR

WILD BILL (1995) (BLU-RAY)
Starring:  Bruce Dern, John Hurt, Keith Carradine, Jeff Bridges, Christina Applegate, Ellen Barkin, Diane Lane, David Arquette, James Gammon
Directed By:  Walter Hill
Composed By:  Van Dyke Parks

“A class affair. Director Hill has dug deep into the Western myth and dredged up all its misbegotten souls.”
– Ian Nathan, Empire

“Wild Bill succeeds as a character study of a man whose idiosyncratic code of justice eventually catches up with him. Bridges’ performance is a masterstroke of squinty-eyed bitterness.”
– Bruce Fretts, Entertainment Weekly

The sublime writer-director Walter Hill’s Wild Bill (1995) focuses on the last days of mythic gunfighter, Wild Bill Hickok (Jeff Bridges), consorting in Deadwood with Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin), observed by a longtime friend (John Hurt), and haunted by the ghosts of his past, from an old flame (Diane Lane) to a young man (David Arquette) who announces his intention to kill Bill.

LANGUAGE: English
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA / English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1995 / Color
98 MINUTES
RATED R Wild West Violence and a Sex Scene

Special Features: Isolated Music Track / Original Theatrical Trailer

Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

  
Reviews and Comments: (1)
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Posted by Mark Turner on November 9, 2017 2:27 PM
I’ve loved nearly every movie associated with writer/director Walter Hill. I still consider STREETS OF FIRE to be an undiscovered gem that needs revisited. It seems at some point Hollywood lost faith in Hill and began to provide him less opportunity to make a big budgeted film. The last to receive much ballyhoo was Sylvester Stallone’s BULLET TO THE HEAD which didn’t do as well as other films the star released but was still plenty entertaining. At least we have the opportunity to watch classic Hill films on disc. Last year saw the releases of the classic SOUTHERN COMFORT. Now we have the chance to see WILD BILL, one of his last forays into Hollywood film making.

Based on the life of Wild Bill Hickok (Jeff Bridges) the story focuses on the last few weeks of his life while at the same time interjecting moments from his past. Rather than use the straight forward timeline to tell his story, Hill uses this to great effect here, showing us the end result of Hickok’s life rather than simply glorifying him start to finish.

Narrated by Hickok’s friend Charley Prince (John Hurt) we start off with Hickok during his buffalo hunting days but quickly find him entering Deadwood, a gold mining town whose rough ways suit the famed lawman and gunslinger. Setting up shop at the Number 10 saloon he finds long time love Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin) there among the rabble. Theirs is an unusual relationship, physical at times and more a matter of location than having the chance at long time matrimonial goals. Jane will always love Hickok but his lifestyle leaves him unwilling to settle down.

At this point in time Hickok’s legend precedes him wherever he goes. But his past is catching up to him. Dealing with pain and sight problems brought on by glaucoma, he can still shoot, play cards and carouse with the best of them though the end result is not what it once was. Hickok tends to drink away the pain he carries with him, both physical and mental from the long list of men he’s killed and those he has wronged. Many of these are on view in several of the flashback sequences filmed in black and white to good effect.

Into his life walks another memento of his past, a young man named Jack McCall (David Arquette), who intends to kill Hickok. Rather than shoot him dead, Hickok knocks the young man about and tells him he will allow him to continue living and to abandon his goal. It seems that McCall is set on doing the deed, a revenge for the abandonment of his mother Sarah Moore (Diane Lane) by Hickok years ago as well as the shooting of a man who would have been his stepfather.

What Hill does here is deconstruct the hero we’ve grown to know throughout the years without painting a terrible picture of the man at the same time. Rather he is a product of the times he was alive in, a raw and untamed west that produced more killers turned lawmen than we can count. Hickok was good with a gun and suffered no fools. And yet his life was filled with minor slights that ended in gunplay. It is also a depiction of a man with health damage caused from frequent visitations to ladies of the night. This is not the squeaky clean image of the 50s and 60s but a realistic look at the man.

Bridges turns in a well styled performance here, providing the swaggering bravado of the character when needed and showing those moments of inner turmoil with his acting skills rather than the spoken word. You can tell, for instance, that Hickok loves Jane but that his heart remains held by the now gone Sarah Moore. You can see in his face that while he is skilled at killing a man he takes no pleasure in it.

The rest of the cast does an amazing job as well and a number of faces familiar to Hill fans pop up in various roles, among them Stoney Jackson and James Remar. Christina Applegate makes an appearance as do both Bruce Dern and Keith Carradine. But it is Bridges center stage that most will remember from this film.

The late 90s had a number of old west movies made that should have revived the genre yet for some reason failed to do so. WYATT EARP and DANCES WITH WOLVES with Kevin Costner, TOMBSTONE with Kurt Russell, UNFORGIVEN with Clint Eastwood and THE QUICK AND THE DEAD with Russell Crowe, Gene Hackman and Sharon Stone were all made during this time period. One can only hope that while it never kicked off at the time that perhaps one day the western will rise from the ashes and become popular again. Until then fans like myself will have to be content watching movies like these on disc.

Twilight Time is releasing this one with their usual high quality crisp and clean picture. Extras are limited to an isolated music track and the original theatrical trailer. As is always the case the release is limited to just 3,000 copies so fans should pick one up before they’re gone.

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