The Quick and the Dead (1995 film)
|The Quick and the Dead|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sam Raimi|
|Produced by||Joshua Donen
|Written by||Simon Moore|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Editing by||Pietro Scalia|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Release date(s)||February 10, 1995|
|Running time||107 minutes|
The Quick and the Dead is a 1995 western film directed by Sam Raimi and starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio. The story focuses on "The Lady" (Stone), a gunfighter who rides into the 1878 Wild West town of Redemption, controlled by the ruthless John Herod (Hackman). The Lady joins a deadly dueling competition in an attempt to exact revenge for her father's death.
Writer Simon Moore's script for The Quick and the Dead was purchased by Sony Pictures Entertainment in May 1993, and actress Sharon Stone signed on as both star and co-producer. Development was fast tracked after director Sam Raimi's hiring, and principal photography began in Old Tucson Studios in Arizona on November 21, 1993. Distribution duties were covered by Sony-owned TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures. The Quick and the Dead was released in the United States on February 10, 1995 to a dismal box office performance, and received mixed but generally favorable reviews from critics.
This was Woody Strode's final performance (the film is dedicated to him), as well as the last theatrical release of Roberts Blossom. The phrase "the quick and the dead" is from the Book of Common Prayer and its version of the Apostles' Creed, describing the final judgement.
An unnamed gunslinger, referred to as The Lady (Sharon Stone) enters the Old West town of Redemption circa 1881 where she enters a single elimination gunfighting contest held by Redemption's ruthless leader, John Herod (Gene Hackman) a former outlaw. She meets Cort (Russell Crowe), a former Herod henchman turned reverend, whom Herod forces to enter the contest and Fee "The Kid" Herod (Leonardo DiCaprio), an arrogant and young gun shop owner who hopes to impress Herod, whom he believes to be his father, by winning the contest. The first duels of all three go well, as does Herod's duel where he kills braggart Ace Hanlon (Lance Henriksen) who had taken credit for some of Herod's own accomplishments. Herod learns that the townspeople have secretly hired a bounty hunter, Clay Cantrell (Keith David), to enter the contest and kill him, but he kills Cantrell instead. Herod then declares that all future duels must be to the death and forbids anyone from dropping out, thus ensuring that only one will be left standing.
Flashbacks reveal that The Lady had grown up in Redemption, where her father (Gary Sinise) was the town's Marshal. One day Herod and his men invaded the town and tied her father to the gallows. Herod gave the young girl a gun and offered to let her shoot the rope and free him. However, she missed and killed her father instead. Seeking revenge she has come to Redemption with the intent of killing Herod. With Lady, Cort, Herod and The Kid left as the four remaining contestants, Kid challenges Herod to a duel to win his respect. Although they both injure each other with bullet wounds, Kid's wounds prove fatal and he dies in the Lady's arms. Herod, though obviously saddened by the Kid's death, still refuses to acknowledge the young man as his son, believing him to be the result of his wife's affair with a farmer. When Lady and Cort are forced to face each other, they devise a plan to kill Herod and free Redemption from his oppression. The Lady fakes her death with help from the town's local doctor (Roberts Blossom) and makes her return known seconds before Cort and Herod's duel by using the Kid's dynamite to blow up Herod's illegitimate business establishments. In the confusion, Cort dispatches Herod's men while the Lady goes on to fight Herod. They draw their guns, but Herod outdraws and shoots Lady in the chest, but she shoots him in the chest in a more fatal area and finishes him with a well-aimed gunshot to the eye. With Herod gone and the law restored, Cort becomes the new Marshal of the town as Lady rides off into the sunset.
- Sharon Stone as Ellen ("The Lady"): The tournament's only female gunfighter has a personal vendetta against Herod for tricking her into killing her father, and finds an ally in Cort. When they have to eliminate one another, neither draw their guns at first; when Cort shoots her, everyone believes she has died, but she comes back to shoot Herod. Stacy Linn Ramsower plays Young Ellen in flashbacks.
- Gene Hackman as John Herod: Herod rules over the town from his mansion in its center; his mercenaries enforce his will, posing as the town's "Councilors". He also develops an attraction to Ellen, and invites her to dinner one night, where he reveals that he also has a tragic backstory: his father, a judge, forced him to watch people he had sentenced being hanged, and forced his family to play Russian roulette with him which resulted in Herod's father's death.
- Russell Crowe as Cort: Herod's former right-hand man, who abandoned his violent career in favor of a peaceful religious life after Herod forced him to kill a priest who nursed him and Herod back to health once. Herod has Foy and Ratsy burn Cort's mission to the ground and force him to join the competition. He is arguably the fastest and most skilled shooter in Redemption after Herod himself.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Fee "The Kid" Herod: Fee claims to be the son of John Herod and makes a living as the town's gunsmith and enters the tournament hoping to earn his father's acknowledgment and respect. He develops a crush on Ellen, and although she claims the opposite, she deeply cares for him and is greatly saddened when he is killed by Herod. Though Herod insists that he is not Fee's father, his attempts to make him drop out of the tournament and sad reaction to his death hint otherwise.
- Pat Hingle as Horace: Proprietor of the town's only saloon and manager of the gunfighter tournament.
- Roberts Blossom as Doc Wallace: Redemption's local doctor for as long as anyone can remember. He forms an alliance with Lady and Cort to stop Herod's oppression.
- Kevin Conway as Eugene Dred: Local pedophile who is goaded by The Kid into joining the tournament. Killed by Ellen in an unofficial duel after he rapes Horace's young daughter Katie.
- Keith David as Sgt. Clay Cantrell: Former Union soldier of the American Civil War. Cantrell is hired by the town to participate in the tournament in the hopes he will eliminate Herod in the process. He defeats Virgil Sparks in the first round before being killed by Herod in a duel to "make an example of him".
- Lance Henriksen as Ace Hanlon: Trick shot performer who also entertains by telling tall tales of his exploits. He is however a fraud on several accounts and far less skilled than he claims. He is easily killed by Herod.
- Mark Boone Junior as Scars: Outlaw who was sentenced to 35 years for murder, but escaped after a mere three days. He is bald, filthy and blind in one eye. Scars is eventually killed by the Kid.
- Tobin Bell as Dog Kelly: Outlaw bent on finding some buried loot, but he seems to have forgotten its location. His name comes from an incident in his backstory where he had to eat his beloved dog or die of starvation, and gets angry when anyone brings it up. Wounded by Ellen in the tournament and then killed by her in self-defense.
- Raynor Scheine as Ratsy: Herod's errant henchman who revels in torturing Cort, even when Cort smashes his nose twice. Herod orders him to injure Cort's hand before their duel, but then publicly accuses him of it and shoots him dead.
- Olivia Burnette as Katie: Horace's teenager daughter who also idolizes Ellen.
- Gary Sinise as The Marshal: Ellen's father who was accidentally killed by young Ellen as she attempted to save him from being hanged by Herod, which was something Herod himself had orchestrated while attacking and taking over Redemption.
- Sven-Ole Thorsen as Swede Gutzon: Champion shooter from his native country of Sweden, a title nobody takes seriously. Wounded by The Kid in the first round and eliminated.
- Scott Spiegel as Gold Teeth Man: Eccentric street vendor of Redemption.
- Woody Strode as Charlie Moonlight: Coffin maker for the town of Redemption (Strode died only a day or two into the production and can be momentarily seen in the background at the start of the film, when Sharon Stone rides into town, otherwise he does not appear).
- Jonothon Gill as Spotted Horse: Sioux gunfighter who has a reputation for being impossible to kill. His body is covered with 14 bullet wounds; shot in the head by Cort after surviving a shot in the stomach.
- Lennie Loftin as Flat Nose Foy: Gunfighter with bad teeth and a brood of ill-tempered young children. Wounded by Cort in the first round.
- Josef Rainer as Virgil Sparks: The self-proclaimed "pride of Texas" he is wounded by Clay Cantrell in the first round and eliminated.
Writer Simon Moore finished his spec script for The Quick and the Dead in late 1992, writing it as a homage to the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone, particularly the Dollars Trilogy starring Clint Eastwood. The writer decided the lead character should be a female. "When you introduce women into that kind of world, something very interesting happens and you have an interesting dynamic straight away," Moore commented. The names of the lead villain (Herod) and the town (Redemption) were intentional allusions to the Bible. Moore considered directing his own script as an independent film and shooting The Quick and the Dead on a $3–4 million budget in either Spain or Italy.
Sony Pictures Entertainment purchased Moore's script in May 1993 and approached Sharon Stone to star in the lead role in July 1993. Because Stone also signed on as co-producer, she had approval over the choice of director. Sam Raimi was hired to direct because Stone was impressed with his work on Army of Darkness (1993). The actress told the producers that if Raimi did not direct the film, she would not star in it. Although she had mixed emotions on Raimi's previous work, she believed that the director still had yet to showcase his talents, feeling that The Quick and the Dead would be a perfect opportunity to "stretch the limits of his technical and creative ability." Moore was also enthusiastic over Raimi's hiring, based on his previous work with the Evil Dead film series.
When Sony began fast tracking development The Quick and the Dead, the studio commissioned a series of rewrites from Moore. The writer was eventually dismissed and replaced with John Sayles, who, according to Moore, took Sony's orders of "making more of an American Old West film". Moore was rehired with filming to begin in three weeks because Sayles' script was approaching a 2.5 hour runtime. When rewriting the shooting script, Moore simply omitted Sayles' work without Sony noticing. A week before shooting, Sony considered the script good so that Moore described the rewrites "a completely fucking pointless exercise".
Russell Crowe originally auditioned for a different role in the film before Sharon Stone asked that the actor try for the lead male role. "When I saw Romper Stomper (1992), I thought Russell was not only charismatic, attractive and talented but also fearless," Stone reasoned. "And I find fearlessness very attractive. I was convinced I wouldn't scare him." Raimi found Crowe to be "bold and challenging. He reminds me of what we imagine the American cowboy to have been like." On working with Raimi, Crowe later described the director as "sort of like the fourth Stooge".
Sony Pictures was dubious over Stone's choice of Crowe because he was not a famous actor in the mid-1990s. To cast Gene Hackman in the role of Herod, TriStar Pictures changed the shooting location from Durango, Mexico to Tucson, Arizona. Sam Rockwell auditioned for The Kid, a role which ended up going to Leonardo DiCaprio. Sony was also dubious over DiCaprio's casting. As a result, Stone decided to pay for the actor's salary herself.
Filming was originally set to begin in October 1993, but was delayed because Crowe was busy on another film in Australia. Principal photography for The Quick and the Dead lasted from November 21, 1993 to February 27, 1994. Locations included Old Tucson Studios in Arizona and Mescal, 40 miles southeast of Tucson. Production was briefly halted at times over weather problems. Thell Reed, who was hired as the gun coach and weapons master, worked with the cast through over three months of training. To age Cort's Colt 1851 Navy Revolver and the other guns used, Reed experimented with simple measures. "I took them out by my swimming pool and dipped them in chlorine water to let them rust," he explained. "They looked rusty and old, but were brand new guns." Such detail, including the nickel plating and ivory handles on Ellen's Colt Peacemakers, was accurate to the time period.
The town of Redemption was designed by Patrizia von Brandenstein, known for her work on Amadeus (1984) and The Untouchables (1987). Raimi's first choice as the visual effects supervisor was William Mesa, his collaborator on Darkman (1991) and Army of Darkness (1993). Instead, Sony chose The Computer Film Company to created the VFX sequences. Pick-up scenes took place through November - December 1994. This included an extended duel between Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman.
Stone had a love scene removed from the final cut of The Quick and the Dead before the film's release in the United States. The actress/co-producer thought the scene did not fit in with the picture's established reality. It was restored for the home cinema releases of the film.
The original motion picture soundtrack for The Quick and the Dead, was released by the Varèse Sarabande music label on February 14, 1995. The score for the film was composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri and mixed by Dennis Sands. Kenneth Karman and Thomas Drescher edited the film's music.
|The Quick and the Dead: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by Alan Silvestri|
|Released||February 14, 1995|
|The Quick and the Dead: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|3.||"Couldn't Tell Us Apart"||1:17|
|5.||"Ellen's First Round"||1:10|
|6.||"Lady's the Winner"||0:47|
|9.||"Ellen vs. Dred"||1:10|
|10.||"Kid vs. Herod"||4:17|
|11.||"I Don't Wanna Die"||2:00|
|12.||"The Big Day"||2:27|
|14.||"The Law's Come Back to Town"||0:49|
|15.||"The Quick and the Dead (End Credits)"||3:30|
The Quick and the Dead was released in the U.S. on February 10, 1995 in 2,158 theaters, earning $6,515,861 in its opening weekend. The film eventually grossed $18,636,537 in revenue and was declared to be a box office bomb. However, writer Simon Moore acknowledged that the film performed modestly in Europe.
The Quick and the Dead's dismal box office performance can be attributed to competition from Billy Madison, The Brady Bunch Movie, Just Cause and Heavyweights. Director Sam Raimi later blamed himself and his visual style for the film's failure. "I was very confused after I made that movie. For a number of years I thought, I'm like a dinosaur. I couldn't change with the material." TriStar Pictures also showed The Quick and the Dead as an "out-of-competition" film at the May 1995 Cannes Film Festival. Additionally, Stone was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Actress, but lost to Angela Bassett in Strange Days. A novelization written by Jack Curtis was published by HarperCollins in September 1995. The Region 1 DVD release came in September 1998.
Critical response 
The Quick and the Dead received mixed to positive reviews from film critics. Based on 40 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 55% of the critics enjoyed The Quick and the Dead with an average rating of 6.2/10. By comparison, Metacritic calculated an average score of 49/100, based on 21 reviews. Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised Stone's performance and Raimi's directing. "Stone's presence nicely underscores the genre-bending tactics of Raimi, the cult filmmaker now doing his best to reinvent the B movie in a spirit of self-referential glee."
|"The cinematographer, Dante Spinotti ("The Last of the Mohicans") makes the material look terrific. The lowering skies around the isolated town make it look ripe for vengeance of biblical proportions, and there are quiet satirical touches, as when a man stands in a saloon door and his shadow seems about 6 miles long."|
|—Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times|
Critic and Raimi biographer Bill Warren wrote that the film "is a very conscious (though not self-conscious) attempt to recreate some of the themes, style and appeal of Sergio Leone's majestically operatic Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s, especially the Man with No Name trilogy that starred Clint Eastwood. It's brisker, more romantic and somehow more American than Leone's movies." Jonathan Rosenbaum from the Chicago Reader observed that "Raimi tries to do a Sergio Leone, and though The Quick and the Dead is highly enjoyable in spots, it doesn't come across as very convincing, perhaps because nothing can turn Sharon Stone into Charles Bronson." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized the film for being overtly cliché, but praised Raimi's direction and Dante Spinotti's cinematography. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine felt that "The Quick and the Dead plays like a crazed compilation of highlights from famous westerns. Raimi finds the right look but misses the heartbeat. You leave the film dazed instead of dazzled, as if an expert marksman had drawn his gun only to shoot himself in the foot."
See also 
- John Kenneth Muir (2004). The Unseen Force: The Films of Sam Raimi. New York City: Applause: Theatre & Cinema Books. pp. 180–189. ISBN 1-55783-607-8.
- "The Quick and the Dead". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
- Muir, pp. 171-179
- Bill Warren (2000). "Blood Still in the Veins". The Evil Dead Companion. London: Titan Books. pp. 162–179. ISBN 0-312-27501-3.
- Jamie Diamond (1995-03-26). "Straight Out of Australia, to L.A.". The New York Times.
- Army Archerd (1993-08-16). "Douglas wows 'Greedy' cast, crew". Variety. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- Rebecca Murray; Fred Topel. "Sam Rockwell Talks About Confessions of a Dangerous Mind". About.com. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- Army Archerd (1993-10-13). "Lemmon enjoying fruitful outings". Variety. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- Army Archerd (1994-02-25). "Friends stunned, saddened by Shore's death". Variety. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- Muir, pp.190-197
- Army Archerd (1994-12-20). "H'w'd pumped for sequel to 'Gump'". Variety. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- "Winnie Mandela Caught in New Flap". Eugene Register-Guard. 1995-02-12. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
- "The Quick and the Dead Soundtrack". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
- "The Quick and the Dead (1995)". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
- "The Top Movies, Weekend of February 17, 1995". The Numbers. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
- "Festival de Cannes: The Quick and the Dead". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
- "Past Saturn Awards". Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "The Quick and the Dead (Paperback)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "The Quick and the Dead (1995)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "The Quick and the Dead (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- "Quick and the Dead, The (1995): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- Janet Maslin (1995-02-10). "The Quick and the Dead". The New York Times.
- Roger Ebert (1995-02-10). "The Quick and the Dead". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- Jonathan Rosenbaum. "The Quick and the Dead". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- Peter Travers (1995-03-09). "The Quick and the Dead". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Quick and the Dead|
- Official website
- The Quick and the Dead at the Internet Movie Database
- The Quick and the Dead at AllRovi
- The Quick and the Dead at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Quick and the Dead at Box Office Mojo