Dungeon Classics #4: The Quick and the Dead

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

The Quick and the Dead (1995, USA / Japan)

Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio
Running Time: 107 mins.

One of the my favorite movies! It’s just so damn entertaining. The story is about a sexy, female gunslinger (Sharon Stone) riding into the town of redemption to take revenge on local boss Herod (Gene Hackman). To do this, she has to enter a fast-draw contest in which the odds of surviving are about 3,2 percent. Five reasons I LOVE this movie:
1. The direction by Sam Raimi is top of the line. Never did he deliver more style and razzle-dazzle.
2. The camerawork. Every shot and angle is a little masterpiece. The gunfights are all shot in incredibly inventive ways.
3. The main cast and supporting cast are terrific. The chemistry and tension between Stone, Hackman, Crowe and DiCaprio is magnetic. And the supporting actors, gunfighters mostly, are hard, no impossible to forget.
4. The beautiful score by Alan Silvestri.
5. Some of the duels are the greatest scenes I’ve ever seen. This movie is scandalously underrated.

Fast Draw Competition ‘The Quick and the Dead’: Contestants and Results

The Quick and the Dead 00

The greatest sport in the world – which is forbidden since the days of the Old West – is fast-draw aka quick-draw. Well the deadly version at least. It is still played with special blanks or wax bullets nowadays. Not so exciting. I only wish there was a great movie about the true art of gunslinging.

Wait a minute: there is! ‘The Quick and the Dead’, a 1995 western directed by nobody less than Sam Raimi, the man who gave us the outrageously entertaining horror comedies ‘The Evil Dead’ and sequels back in the eighties and early nineties. ‘The Quick and the Dead’ featured great actors, such as Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio. It is a magnificent revenge western in the style of ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’, but then Raimi style, featuring plenty of razzle dazzle and jaw dropping camera moves.

It is also a sport movie. Perhaps it is understandable that we don’t see this type of competition anymore, because there are some major drawbacks obviously. For example, unless you are the best you don’t get to play it many times. And even if you win, there won’t be many people around to witness your great victory. Better to stick with this movie then.

So who are the outlaws that battle it out in this underrated quick-draw flick? To refresh your memory about the participants and outcomes of this tournament see below (spoilers obviously):

Round 1

The Quick and the Dead - Round 1.1
The Quick and the Dead - Round 1.2
The Quick and the Dead - Round 1.3
The Quick and the Dead - Round 1.4

Round 2

The Quick and the Dead - Round 2.1
The Quick and the Dead - Round 2.2

Round 3

The Quick and the Dead - Round 3

Final

The Quick and the Dead - Final

Film Review: American Gangster (2007)


‘There are two sides to the American dream.’

Directed by:
Ridley Scott

Written by:
Steven Zaillian (screenplay)
Mark Jacobson (article)

Cast:
Denzel Washington (Frank Lucas), Russell Crowe (Richie Roberts), Josh Brolin (Detective Trupo), Lymari Nadal (Eva), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Huey Lucas), Ted Levine (Lou Toback), John Hawkes (Freddy Spearman), RZA (Moses Jones), Armand Assante (Dominic Cattano), Cuba Gooding Jr. (Nicky Barnes)

Ridley Scott has worked in a lot of different genres, including science fiction (Alien, Blade Runner), historic epic (Gladiator), road movie (Thelma and Louise) and thriller (Hannibal). With American Gangster he added another genre to his very impressive resume.

As with many of the great gangster films, the basis of American Gangster is a true story. Frank Lucas (Washington) is a special kind of incarnation of the American dream. When his mentor, drugs kingpin Bumpy Johnson dies, Lucas replaces him as Harlem’s number one drug lord. His power quickly spreads throughout the whole of New York and New Jersey and he even becomes bigger than the Italian Mafia. He is opposed by Richie Roberts (Crowe). An honest cops who fights corruption and injustice while all of his colleagues are on the take.

So far nothing new. Scott attracted many great talents for his movie, but what makes Lucas’ story special? When viewing this, it is hard not to think of other films that have preceded American Gangster. The cop Vs. the gangster story reminds of Heat, and Lucas buying drugs in the Southeast Asian jungle is reminiscent of Blow. And when observing black dealers and users in the streets, countless of Blaxploitation films come to mind. Not in the least place because Scott uses the all-familiar song Across 110th Street, like Tarantino did in Jackie Brown.

Well, one of the things that makes the story special, is the way Lucas smuggles his dope into the USA. Namely in body bags of killed US soldiers that served in Vietnam. The fact that Lucas profits from his country’s pointless struggle against communism and narcotics has a great taste of irony. That aside, we have seen most of this before. But it doesn’t really matter. The film is so entertaining that one can easily forgive it for its little original premise. The great casting, production design and visual style alone make this a totally enjoyable experience. Washington is very convincing in his first gangster portrayal and Crowe also turns in another excellent performance as law enforcer.

The supporting cast features many great familiar faces such as Josh Brolin, Armand Assante, Jon Polito, RZA and Idris Elba, who have all played gangster types before. The cast, Scott’s visual style and the detailed seventies settings ensure that there is not a boring moment in the whole movie. Kudos to Scott who was already seventy years old when making this. He definitely made the grade.

Rating: 

Quote
FRANK LUCAS: “Nobody owns me though. That’s because I own my own company, and my company sells a product that’s better than the competition. At a lower price than the competition.”

Trivia
James Gandolfini was offered the role of detective Trupo, but turned it down.