×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Wild Bill

Wild Bill is an art Western that manages to shoot itself in both feet. Walter Hill's third oater represents a case of diminishing returns in the genre for the director, after skillfully taking on several famous outlaw clans in The Long Riders and rather too reverentially approaching the legend of Geronimo years ago.

With:
Jeff Bridges Ellen Barkin John Hurt Diane Lane David Arquette Christina Applegate

Wild Bill is an art Western that manages to shoot itself in both feet. Walter Hill’s third oater represents a case of diminishing returns in the genre for the director, after skillfully taking on several famous outlaw clans in The Long Riders and rather too reverentially approaching the legend of Geronimo years ago.

Although less flamboyant and showbizzy, this awkwardly structured look at one of the West’s most famous gunmen stands as an artistic companion piece to Robert Altman’s dud Buffalo Bill and the Indians in its preoccupation with myth and legend and its at least partial basis in a play [Thomas Babe’s 1978 Fathers and Sons, plus Pete Dexter’s novel Deadwood].

As impersonated with great physical conviction by Jeff Bridges, this Wild Bill is one ornery, sore-headed s.o.b. In the film’s weird initial 20 minutes, this rattlesnake cuts down a succession of men in an elongated montage that spans nine years up to 1876 and locations from Abilene to Cheyenne to New York City.

In Deadwood Gulch in the Dakota Territory, Bill resumes his old quasi-romance with Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin), suffers an opium-induced crisis of conscience and faces a recurring challenge from green would-be assassin Jack McCall (David Arquette), who, it appears, may be Wild Bill’s son.

The druggy dreams and romantic pangs prompt a series of flashbacks done in parched, high-contrast black-and-white that further reveal Bill’s murderousness as well as his lost love for Jack’s mother, Susannah (Diane Lane). The problem is that these regrets have no seeming effect on the dubious hero’s character. Pic comes to a near dead-stop, in the final stretch, as Wild Bill, Calamity Jane and Jack’s band of killers sit around all night in a saloon while Jack decides whether or not to kill his nemesis.

Bridges acquits himself honorably, snarling meanly and attempting to search a soul that is void. Barkin is game but doesn’t really ring true as Calamity Jane, while Lane is one of the dreamiest visions to hit the territories since Claudia Cardinale in Once Upon a Time in the West.

Wild Bill

Production: Zanuck/United Artists. Director Walter Hill; Producer Richard D. Zanuck, Lili Fini Zanuck; Screenplay Walter Hill; Camera Lloyd Ahern; Editor Freeman Davies; Art Director Joseph Nemec III

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1995. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: Jeff Bridges Ellen Barkin John Hurt Diane Lane David Arquette Christina Applegate

More Film

  • Joker

    Korea Box Office: 'Joker' Remains on Top, 'Gemini Man' Lands in Fourth

    Warner Bros.’ “Joker” remained on top of the South Korean box office in its second weekend. The American psychological thriller earned $5.71 million from 768,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday, for a total of $28.3 million from 3.85 million admissions after two weekends. It accounted for 46% of total weekend box office in the country. [...]

  • dolittle-DRD_Tsr1Sht_1011_RGB_4_rgb-1

    Robert Downey Jr. Embarks on Perilous Journey in First 'Dolittle' Trailer (Watch)

    Robert Downey Jr. is setting sail with some furry friends in the first trailer for “Dolittle,” Universal Pictures’ reimagining of the classic story about a man who could speak to animals. “We have no choice but to embark on this perilous journey,” he says. Set to a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” [...]

  • Parasite

    Bong Joon Ho's 'Parasite' Posts Powerful Opening in North America

    Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy “Parasite,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, has launched with a spectacular $376,264 at three U.S. theaters.  Neon opened “Parasite” at The Landmark and Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles and at the IFC Center in New York, where it broke the opening record set by 2014’s “Boyhood.” Its per-screen average of [...]

  • Joker Movie

    'Joker' Dominates International Box Office With $124 Million

    “Joker” is showing impressive traction internationally with a second weekend of $123.7 million on 24,149 screens in 79 markets — a holdover decline of just 29%. Joaquin Phoenix’s psychological thriller has totaled $351.2 million outside North America after only 12 days in release. And with $192 million in domestic grosses, “Joker” has now topped $543 [...]

  • Joker

    'Joker' Remains Box Office Ruler With $55 Million

    Joaquin Phoenix is king of the North American box office once again as “Joker” scores an easy victory in its second weekend with $55 million at 4,374 sites. “Joker” dominated a trio of new entries with animated comedy “The Addams Family” leading the rest of pack with $30.3 million at 4,007 venues, topping forecasts. Will [...]

  • French director Bertrand Tavernier attends the

    Bertrand Tavernier on Coppola, Scorsese, Cayatte, Cinema’s Bright Future

    Veteran French director Bertrand Tavernier (“Round Midnight”) – president and director of the Institut Lumière and Lumière Festival, which he co-manages with Cannes’ Thierry Frémaux – has played a pivotal role in restoring classic French films and defending the importance of French directors, such as Claude Autant Lara, Henri Decoin and André Cayatte, who were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content