From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Unforgiven (disambiguation).
Unforgiven 2.jpg
Film poster by Bill Gold
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Written by David Webb Peoples
Starring Clint Eastwood
Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman
Richard Harris
Music by Lennie Niehaus
Cinematography Jack N. Green
Edited by Joel Cox
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • August 7, 1992 (1992-08-07)
Running time 131 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14.4 million[1]
Box office $159,157,447

Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had turned to farming. A dark Western that deals frankly with the uglier aspects of violence and how easily complicated truths are distorted into simplistic myths about the Old West, it stars Eastwood in the lead role, with Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris. Eastwood has stated that this would be his last Western for fear of repeating himself or imitating someone else's work.[2]

Eastwood dedicated the movie to deceased directors and mentors Don Siegel and Sergio Leone. The film won four Academy Awards: Best Picture and Best Director for Clint Eastwood, Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman, and Best Film Editing for editor Joel Cox. Eastwood was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, but he lost to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman. In 2004, Unforgiven was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The film was the third Western to win the Oscar for Best Picture, following Cimarron (1931) and Dances With Wolves (1990).


A group of prostitutes in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, led by Strawberry Alice, offer a $1,000 reward to whoever can kill Quick Mike and "Davey-Boy" Bunting, two cowboys who disfigured Delilah Fitzgerald. The local sheriff, Little Bill Daggett, a former gunfighter and keeper of the peace, is worried about their incentive, as he does not allow guns or criminals in his town. Little Bill had given the two men leniency, despite their crime.

Miles away in Kansas, the Schofield Kid, a boastful young man, visits the pig farm of William Munny, seeking to recruit him to kill the cowboys. In his youth, Munny was a bandit notorious as a cold-blooded murderer. Now a repentant widower raising two children, he has sworn off alcohol and killing. Though Munny initially refuses to help with the execution, his farm is failing, putting his children's future in jeopardy. Munny reconsiders a few days later and sets off to catch up with the Kid. On his way, Munny recruits Ned Logan, another retired gunfighter, who leaves his wife to go along.

Back in Wyoming, gunfighter English Bob, and old acquaintance and rival of Little Bill, and his biographer, W. W. Beauchamp, arrive in Big Whiskey, also seeking the reward. Little Bill and his deputies disarm Bob, and Bill beats him savagely, hoping to discourage other would-be killers. That night in the town jail, Little Bill begins to dissect the boastful stories that Bob has been telling Mr. Beauchamp, revealing him to be a cowardly backshooter rather than the heroic figure he has made himself out to be to his biographer. The next morning he ejects Bob from town, but Beauchamp decides to stay and write about Bill. He has impressed the biographer with his tales of old gunfights and seeming knowledge of the inner workings of a gunfighter's psyche.

Munny, Logan and the Kid arrive later during a rain storm; they go to the saloon/whorehouse to discover the cowboys' location. With a bad fever after riding in the rain, Munny is sitting alone in the saloon when Little Bill and his deputies arrive to confront him. With no idea of Munny's past, Little Bill beats him and kicks him out of the saloon after finding a pistol on him. Logan and the Kid, upstairs getting "advances" on their payment from the prostitutes, escape out a back window. The three regroup at a barn outside of town, where they nurse Munny back to health.

Three days later, they ambush a group of cowboys and kill Bunting. Logan and Munny no longer have much stomach for murder. Logan decides to return home while Munny feels they must finish what they started. Munny and the Kid head to the cowboys' ranch, where the Kid ambushes Quick Mike in an outhouse and kills him. After they escape, a distraught Kid confesses he had never killed anyone before. Munny advises him to drink more whiskey to numb the pain of realizing that when you kill someone, you take everything they have, and ever will have. The Kid renounces life as a gunfighter and plans to return home.

When Little Sue meets the two men to give them the reward, they learn that Logan was captured by Little Bill's men and tortured to death. He had revealed the names of his two accomplices before dying, after which his corpse was displayed outside the saloon. After this, The Kid heads back to Kansas to deliver the reward money to Munny's children and Logan's wife. Munny takes Ned's whiskey bottle from the kid, takes a few gulps, and heads into town to take revenge on Little Bill.

That night, Munny arrives and sees that Logan's corpse is indeed displayed in a coffin outside the saloon. Inside, Little Bill has assembled a posse to pursue Munny and the Kid. Munny walks in alone and kills Skinny Dubois, the saloon owner and pimp. After some tense dialogue, a gunfight ensues, leaving Bill wounded and several of his deputies dead. Munny orders everyone out if they didn't want to get killed. Just as a wounded Little Bill weakly lifts his pistol and cocks it, Munny turns and kicks it from his hand. Bill says he doesn't deserve this and curses Munny before the latter finishes him with a final gunshot, telling Bill that "deserve's got nothing to do with it". Munny threatens the townsfolk before finally leaving town, warning that he will return if Logan is not buried properly or if any prostitutes are further harmed.

A brief epilogue states that Munny was rumored to have moved to San Francisco, where he prospered in dry goods.



The film was written by David Webb Peoples, who had written the Oscar-nominated film The Day After Trinity and co-wrote Blade Runner.[3] The concept for the film dated to 1976, when it was developed under the titles The Cut-Whore Killings and The William Munny Killings.[3] Eastwood delayed the project, partly because he wanted to wait until he was old enough to play the lead and to savor it as the last of his western films.

Much of the cinematography for the film was shot in Alberta in August 1991 by director of photography Jack Green.[4] Filming took place between August 26, 1991 and November 12, 1991.[5] Production designer Henry Bumstead, who had worked with Eastwood on High Plains Drifter, was hired to create the "drained, wintry look" of the western.[4]


Unforgiven received near-universal acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes registers a "Certified Fresh" 95% approval rating among reviews. Many critics acclaimed the film for its noir-ish moral ambiguity and atmosphere. They also acclaimed it as a fitting eulogy to the western genre. Jack Methews of the Los Angeles Times described it as "The finest classical western to come along since perhaps John Ford's 1956 The Searchers." Richard Corliss in Time wrote that the film was "Eastwood's meditation on age, repute, courage, heroism – on all those burdens he has been carrying with such grace for decades."[6]

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert criticized the work; though the latter gave it a positive vote, both criticized the picture for being too long and having too many superfluous characters (such as Harris' English Bob, who enters and leaves without meeting the protagonists). Despite his reservations, Ebert eventually included the film in his "Great Movies" list.[7]

Home media[edit]

Unforgiven was released on Blu-ray Book (a Blu-ray Disc with book packaging) on February 21, 2012. Special features include an audio commentary by the Clint Eastwood biographer, Richard Schickel; four documentaries including "All on Accounta Pullin' a Trigger", "Eastwood & Co.: Making Unforgiven", "Eastwood...A Star", and "Eastwood on Eastwood", and more.[8]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at the top position in its opening weekend.[9][10] Its earnings of $15,018,007 ($7,252 average from 2,071 theaters) on its opening weekend was the best ever opening for an Eastwood film at that time.[6] It spent a total of 3 weeks as the #1 movie in North America. In its 35th weekend (April 2–4, 1993), capitalizing on its Oscar wins, the film returned to the Top 10 (spending 3 weeks total), ranking at #8 with a gross of $2,538,358 ($2,969 average from 855 theaters), an improvement of 197 percent over the weekend before where it made $855,188 ($1,767 average from 484 theaters). The film closed on July 15, 1993, having spent nearly a full year in theaters (343 days / 49 weeks), having earned $101,157,447 in North America, and another $58,000,000 overseas for a total of $159,157,447 worldwide.[11]


Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Picture Clint Eastwood Won
Best Director Won
Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman Won
Best Film Editing Joel Cox Won
Best Actor Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Original Screenplay David Webb Peoples Nominated
Best Cinematography Jack N. Green Nominated
Best Sound Les Fresholtz Nominated
Vern Poore Nominated
Dick Alexander Nominated
Rob Young Nominated
Best Art Direction Henry Bumstead Nominated
Janice Blackie-Goodine Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman Won
Best Film Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Direction Nominated
Best Original Screenplay David Webb Peoples Nominated
Best Sound Les Fresholtz Nominated
Vern Poore Nominated
Dick Alexander Nominated
Rob Young Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Director Clint Eastwood Won
Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman Won
Best Motion Picture – Drama Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Screenplay David Webb Peoples Nominated


In June 2008, Unforgiven was listed as the fourth best American film in the western genre (behind The Searchers, High Noon, and Shane) in the American Film Institute's "AFI's 10 Top 10" list.[12][13]

The film is listed in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies. In 2005, Time named it one of the 100 best movies of the last 80 years. It was also admitted to the National Film Registry in 2004.

The music for the Unforgiven film trailer, which appeared in theatres and on some of the DVDs, was composed by Randy J. Shams and Tim Stithem in 1992.

American Film Institute recognition

In 1992, the film poster designer, longtime Eastwood collaborator Bill Gold, won the prestigious Key Art award from The Hollywood Reporter.[14]


A Japanese remake directed by Lee Sang-il and starring Ken Watanabe was released in 2013. The plot is very similar to the original, but takes place during the Meji period in Japan with Watanabe's character being a samurai of old regime instead of a bandit.


  1. ^ Hughes, p. 38
  2. ^ Clint Eastwood reveals why UNFORGIVEN may be his last Western.
  3. ^ a b McGilligan, p. 467
  4. ^ a b McGilligan, p. 469
  5. ^ Box office/business for Unforgiven. IMDb. Retrieved September 2013
  6. ^ a b McGilligan, p. 473
  7. ^ "Unforgiven :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2010-07-09. 
  8. ^ "Unforgiven [Blu-ray Book]". Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  9. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-08-18). "Weekend Box Office Eastwood Still Tall in the Saddle". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  10. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-08-25). "Weekend Box Office 'Unforgiven' at Top for Third Week". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  11. ^ McGilligan, p. 476
  12. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  13. ^ "Top Western". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  14. ^ The Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards


External links[edit]