Only now does it occur to me... that the first time Sharon Stone produced a vanity project (this was her first-ever producer credit) she chose a Western mash-up of UNFORGIVEN and BLOODSPORT.
Written by Simon West (best known to readers of this site for his twisted fairy tale adventure THE 10TH KINGDOM) and script-doctored by Joss Whedon, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD is revenge tale told from beneath the shadow of ONCE UPON A TIME WITH WEST, but with the
trappings of UNFORGIVEN.
[Gene Hackman essentially plays "Little Bill" once more,
although this time he shamelessly phones in his performance.
Also, a criminally
under-used Lance Henriksen is our stand-in for Richard Harris' "English
Bob," but more on that in a minute.]
The aforementioned revenge is sought during a gunfighting contest, which is set up, tournament-style and with plenty of montages, almost exactly like the Kumite in BLOODSPORT. Though directed with stylistic panache by Sam Raimi (a Raimi Western?!––hey, at least it's got "dead" in the title), it's never quite as good as it ought to be, and for a movie lined wall-to-wall with Leone-style duel scenes, it's rarely exciting. A "too much of a good thing" scenario of there ever was one.
A few small observations:
#1. Mopey Sharon Stone. I don't know why, but when actors produce their own vanity projects, they usually make sure that they get to do plenty o' mopin'. They want as much screen-time as possible to knead their brows and get that sad, faraway look in their eyes.
This is a Revenge-Gunfighting-Kumite movie for godssake, and Sharon Stone is over here patronizing the audience and jonesin' for an Oscar. They should've just had Charlize Theron do it.
#2. Big stars for cheap! There's a pre-TITANIC and ROMEO + JULIET Leo DiCaprio:
and a pre-L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and GLADIATOR Russell Crowe:
#3. Alan Silvestri totally plagiarizes his own soundtrack for PREDATOR throughout this movie. It's a good soundtrack, but I kept waiting for the Predator to show up and enter the tournament. Now that would've been something.
#4. Bruce Campbell had a scene, but it was deleted. They should release it in a collection with the deleted Alice Cooper scene from MAVERICK.
#4. Keith David. Massively underused, but wearing one of the best/worst fake mustaches in memory.
A fair trade, I suppose.
#5. Lance Henriksen. He's not around for long, but he essentially steals the movie as "Ace," a trick-shooter with a tremendous fashion sense.
The way he looks makes me furious that he never popped up in a supporting role on DEADWOOD.
#6. A Woody Strode cameo.
He's pretty ancient at this point, but he has a brief bit as a the town undertaker, and it's a nice throwback to ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.
#7. Mick Garris. Errr–––WHAT?!
Seen here on the left manhandling Gary Sinise, Mick Garris (infamous Stephen King crony and director of laughable King adaptations like THE STAND, THE SHINING, DESPERATION, RIDING THE BULLET, and QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY) plays a glorified extra during a Sharon Stone flashback. I have to say that when I woke up this morning, I never imagined my day would have Mick Garris in it. Well, there he is.