Wild Bill [DVD] 
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Jeff Bridges plays legendary gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok, facing a mysterious stranger (David Arquette) who is determined to see him dead. Bill finds some comfort in the arms of Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin), but is still haunted by a doomed love for another woman. As Hickok's unhappy past threatens to catch up with him, the deadly stranger closes in.
Audiences overlooked Wild Bill at the cinema, but it's one of the better Westerns of the 1990s, featuring yet another terrific performance by Jeff Bridges, America's most underrated movie actor. As James Butler Hickock, he captures the sense of a man at the end of his career, one of the first media superstars who discovers that his legend is more burden than blessing. As he heads toward his final hand of poker in Deadwood, South Dakota, he flashes back to his younger days and the events that built his reputation, even as he copes with encroaching blindness caused by syphilis.
Walter Hill blends action and elegy, utilising a screenplay based both on Pete Dexter's novel Deadwood and Thomas Babe's play Fathers and Sons. Wild Bill features strong supporting performances by John Hurt (as a Hickock sidekick) and Ellen Barkin (as the tough, lusty Calamity Jane)--but the centrepiece is the sad, manly performance by Bridges, who more than measures up to the part. --Marshall Fine
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Top Customer Reviews
Let's get the likes sorted out first. Jeff Bridges makes a very convincing Hickok, both in physical resemblence and in his mannerisms which capture the times and the violent world that these gunmen inhabited. I was also very impressed with the costumes, sets and background music which all picked up the period feel beautifully. That about covers the likes. On the down side the film was not really long enough to flesh out Hickok's character, and completely lacked a coherent plot. It was simply enough to know he was a doomed man. No relationships were really developed and the film consisted of lots of excerpts from Hickok's life without throwing any light on the man himself, and what made him tick. Hill was able to develop his ideas far more when he made his superb TV series "Deadwood". With time to develop characters he was able to show what might have been with "Wild Bill". The film featured a brief, but mildly amusing cameo by Bruce Dern as a wheelchair bound gunslinger, and Keith Carradine as Buffalo Bill.Read more ›
The film kicks off showing some of Hickok's gunfights and how he obtained his reputation. These are beautifully directed by Walter Hill, with great attention to detail - showing the gunfights exactly how they were suppossed to have happened.
It then shows Hickok as a man troubled with his past and looking at a bleak future, with the impending loss of his vision. Up until this point the film stays very true to the facts, giving an accurate and entertaining portrayal of Hickok and his life and times. Bridges is amazing in the role of Hickok, looking exactly like old pictures of Wild Bill and conveying the man as a killer, but living by his own set of rules. As I have mentioned, the Director Hill also deserves great credit for showing the Old West with amazing realism, grubby muddy steets, dimly lit bars etc.
The film then chages track as soon as his eventual murderer appears in the film, Jack McCall. Historic fact then goes out the window and shows McCall telling Hickok on numerous occassions that he is going to kill him, and, having cornered Wild Bill with men who also want Hickok dead, they all decide they are not able to shoot him. Later McCall eventually shoots Wild Bill in the back of the head, after Hickok generously offers him this view of himself, despite his stated intention to kill him.
That is not to say that the film is not entertaining, as it has some amazing set piece gunfights and captures the feel of the times perfectly. I just wish the writer had decided to stick to the factual story of Hickok, which would of been even more entertaining than the fiction.
Jeff Bridges plays Bill very well and with all the human qualities that you'd expect in a character such as this, and it's just such a shame that the story is firstly all over the place & secondly half made up.
This isn't a long film & the use of flashbacks does help in building up the character & plot in a short space of time but some are out of context & others are just fiction to help along an none existing story line involving Jack McCall.
This is the death nail in my opinion for this film, it seems that the writers didn't think that Jack's part was big enough & just plucked stuff from thin air, the scene in the saloon when Jack & his 'hired guns' sit around with Bill then leave (WTF is that waste of time about) resulting in throwing in a last gun fight and dragging out the obvious ending, time which I think could of been better used filling in Bill's back story in more detail.
I give this film an extra star for Jeff's acting & nothing more.
I just found it great fun, an entertaining film that's always a kick to view, and what more you can ask? Being someone who is very much into visuals, great cinematography and unique approaches to camera-work, this film provided all of that and more, such as an interesting story with whacked-out characters.
I love narration and John Hurt's description of the goings-on here was just great to hear. He played "Charlie," an Englishman with a gentleman's vocabulary that was in stark contrast to the hardened outlaws, led by 'Wild Bill' Hickok himself, played by Jeff Bridges. Ellen Barkin plays "Calamity Jane," and few women of the 1980s and '90s played foul-mouthed, hard-but-sexy women as convincingly as Barkin.
In addition to Hurt, Bridges and Barkin, other fun characters included "California Joe," Hickok's gravel-voiced friend who doesn't say much but when he does, you hear some some of the longest sentences ever uttered. Daid Arquette plays a very strange villain, the man who became famous for shooting Wild Bill. He acts strange and talks as if he has a mouthful of marbles. James Remar, another mean-looking tough guy, is a hired killer. Christina Applegate, Bruce Dern, Margoe Gortner, Keith Carradine and assorted other characters all add to this strange tale, strange in its telling and even stranger in its visual style.
Some of the film is in flashback, which is seen in startling black-and-white and mainly features Diane Lane, who is flat-out gorgeous and maybe the most intriguing person in the film. One of the flashbacks has the film deliberately overexposed with wild dream-like images.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed this film.. Jeff Bridges excelled as Wild Bill.. it was very factual. down to earth and gritty .. while still being stylish and to a certain degree glamorous.. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mr. D. Barry
One of Hill's best films. And unfortunately one of his least known.
Wild bill dvd is good but it deserves a blu ray version to show all its cinematic qualities. Read more
Although thos was a well produced movie and Jeff Bridges was great the action sequencies were rather poor.especially the end gunfight which was very anticlimactic. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mr. R. T. Blanchard