Thursday, October 03, 2019

"The Quick and the Dead" (1987) -- Initial Thoughts

Okay, so I know this is an '80s HBO movie.  I'm cutting it a lot of slack on the strength of that fact.  And honestly, for being made-for-TV in the '80s, the production values are pretty solid.  Nice locations shooting, good cast, okay script.

But man, it really felt like a cheesy '80s take-off of Shane (1953).  Only they took all the things I love about that story and reversed them.  Whyyyyyyyyyyy?

At it's core, it's got the same basic story-line: quiet, inscrutable stranger wearing a fringed buckskin jacket meets a little family composed of husband, wife, and young son, and repeatedly helps them avoid death and destruction.  So far, so similar.

But in this, the stranger (Sam Elliott) is overtly attracted to the wife (Kate Capshaw), repeatedly tells her husband how pretty she is, and even kisses her.  SO much less interesting than the restrained, nuanced, never-acted-upon attraction that Shane and Marian Starrett have for each other.  In this, the stranger and the husband (Tom Conti) are antagonistic and wary, constantly rubbing each other the wrong way.  SO much less interesting than the deep, steady friendship that grows between Shane and Joe Starrett.  And in this, the stranger and the boy do develop a bit of camaraderie, but there's no hero-worship to be upheld or dashed, no one trying to live up to a little person's ideals about them... it's just in all ways so much less interesting to me than Shane.

I'm not saying this is a bad movie.  It's not.  It's got some fun twists, and Sam Elliott is always a good time.  If I didn't have both the book and movie of Shane so deeply ingrained in me, I might have a cheerier disposition toward it. I'm going to have to find the book this is based on, cuz it's by Louis L'Amour, and I'm wondering if it feels less like a Shane do-over than the movie does.  We shall see.

Is this movie family friendly?  Um, not exactly?  One of the bad guys says early on that he has first dibs on the woman, because it's been a long time since he's had a woman who smelled good, and he's pretty focused on finding and attacking her, though the word 'rape' never gets mentioned.  (Spoiler alert:  he never gets a chance to touch her.)  There's some kissing, and there's one scene where Kate Capshaw is taking a shower under a waterfall in a very see-through white cami and petticoat or bloomers, I forget which, and Sam Elliott walks in on her and is appreciative of the sight, though he doesn't approach her.  There's some bad language of the cable-tv-in-the-'80s variety, and some western violence.

10 comments:

  1. I was wondering where I'd seen that guy's face before. I think he played an aged hippie on Parks and Recreation. Because the name, Sam Elliot, sounds super familiar, as well as the face.

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    1. I was thinking the same thing! And yes, I think Parks and Rec was what I saw him on too!

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    2. Ron Swanson hated him SO MUCH, it was hilarious :D Kills me every time!

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    3. Katie & Skye, I have not watched Parks & Rec, but that sounds like the sort of role Elliott would be hilarious in :-) He's great at the laid-back-yet-intense vibe.

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    4. Oh, you would love him in that role!!!! He says crazy, creepy things in the most nonchalant voice ever, like "may we meet again in another life" to a person who absolutely HATES him--and then the person is just left sitting there like . . .

      *aneurysm*

      Also he makes this huge deal out of being vegan and it KILLS Ron Swanson to have to listen to him going on about it :-P because Ron is the most stereotypical meat-lover ever.

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    5. Haha! That does sound quite amusing :-) So funny that his character is vegan, since usually he plays hairy-chested he-man hunter-types.

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    6. I think that's why they did it, haha!! Because Nick Offerman [Ron] played the "He-Man" character, and they wanted somebody to annoy Ron . . .

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  2. SAM ELLIOTT is really good in westerns and also at playing the bad guy in true-crime movies for TV. He did MURDER IN TEXAS with FARRAH FAWCETT and A DEATH IN CALIFORNIA with CHERYL LADD. Notice the similarity in the titles and each one had a former CHARLIES ANGEL. Sam has been acting for at least 50 years! He is married to KATHARINE ROSS who is also good in westerns. Classic TV Fan

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    1. Classic TV Fan, yup! I love him in Tombstone as Virgil Earp, and also in We Were Soldiers and Gettysburg.

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  3. Not every project is up to Sam Elliott's talent, but somedays even an 80s TV movie is worth a look.

    Tension at Table Rock, 1956 is another one of those Shane-like knockoffs. Richard Egan is the gunfighter and Dorothy Malone is married to the town sheriff played by Cameron Mitchell. It rather runs out of steam toward the end, but has a great cast of recognizable character actors to keep your interest.

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