Review: ‘Silverado’

Rather than relying on legendary heroes of Westerns past, writer-director Lawrence Kasdan with his brother Mark have used their special talent to create a slew of human scale characters against a dramatic backdrop borrowing from all the conventions of the genre. Silverado strikes an uneasy balance between the intimate and naturalistic with concerns that are classical and universal.

Rather than relying on legendary heroes of Westerns past, writer-director Lawrence Kasdan with his brother Mark have used their special talent to create a slew of human scale characters against a dramatic backdrop borrowing from all the conventions of the genre. Silverado strikes an uneasy balance between the intimate and naturalistic with concerns that are classical and universal.

Drifters Paden (Kevin Kline) and Emmett (Scott Glenn) join fates in the desert and follow their destiny to Silverado where they tangle with the McKendrick clan. Along the way they meet up with Glenn’s gun happy brother Jake (Kevin Costner) who they break from a jail guarded by Sheriff Langston (John Cleese).

Modern element in the stew is introduction of Danny Glover, an itinerant black returning to Silverado to rejoin what’s left of his family.

On the other side of the fence is arch villain Cobb, sheriff of Silverado and puppet of the McKendricks. As Cobb, Brian Dennehy is an actor born to be in Westerns, so powerful is his sense of destruction. Other performances, especially Kline and Glenn, are equally strong.

Real rewards of the film are in the visuals and rarely has the West appeared so alive, yet unlike what one carries in his mind’s eye. Ida Random’s production design is thoroughly convincing in detail.

1985: Best Original Score, Sound

Silverado

Production

Columbia. Director Lawrence Kasdan; Producer Lawrence Kasdan; Screenplay Lawrence Kasdan, Mark Kasdan; Camera John Bailey; Editor Carol Littleton; Music Bruce Broughton; Art Director Ida Random

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1985. Running time: 132 MIN.

With

Kevin Kline Scott Glenn Kevin Costner Danny Glover John Cleese Rosanna Arquette

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