Top positive review
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Great performance pity about the story
on 15 September 2006
That is not to say that Wild Bill is not a very good film. It starts off as an entertaining look at the life and times of Wild Bill Hickok from a factual point of view. It then changes track and introduces a fictional story about his eventual killer being the son of a woman that he once loved and looks at the relationship between Wild Bill and his killer.
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.