Young Guns (film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Christopher Cain|
|Produced by||Christopher Cain
James G. Robinson
|Written by||John Fusco|
Lou Diamond Phillips
|Music by||Brian Banks
|Editing by||Jack Hofstra|
|Studio||Morgan Creek Productions|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox
|Running time||103 minutes|
|Box office||$45,661,556 (domestic)|
Young Guns is a 1988 Western action film directed by Christopher Cain and written by John Fusco. The film was the first to be produced by Morgan Creek Productions. The film stars Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Terence Stamp, Terry O'Quinn, Brian Keith, and Jack Palance.
Young Guns is a retelling of the adventures of Billy the Kid during the Lincoln County War, which took place in New Mexico during 1877–78. It was filmed in and around New Mexico. Historian Dr. Paul Hutton has called Young Guns the most historically accurate of all prior Billy the Kid films. It opened no. 1 at the box office, eventually earning $45 million from a moderate $11 million budget. A sequel, Young Guns II, was released in 1990.
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John Tunstall (Terence Stamp), an educated Englishman and cattle rancher in Lincoln County, New Mexico, hires wayward young gunmen to live and work on his ranch. Tunstall is in heavy competition with another well-connected Irishman named Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance), who owns a large ranch; their men clash on a regular basis. Tunstall recruits Billy (Emilio Estevez) and advises him to renounce violence saying that "He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind." Tensions escalate between the two camps, resulting in the murder of Tunstall. Billy, Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland), Jose Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips), Richard M. "Dick" Brewer (Charlie Sheen), "Dirty" Steve Stephens (Dermot Mulroney), and Charlie Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko), consult their lawyer friend Alexander McSween (Terry O'Quinn), who manages to get them deputized and given warrants for the arrest of Murphy's murderous henchmen.
Billy quickly challenges Dick's authority as leader, vowing revenge against Murphy and the men responsible for killing Tunstall. The men call themselves The Regulators and arrest some of the murderers, but hot-headed Billy is unable to wait for justice. He guns down unarmed men and goes on to kill one of his fellow Regulators (later arrival J. McCloskey) in the paranoid (but correct) belief that he was still in league with Murphy. The men are stripped of their badges, which they find out about by reading a newspaper. That same paper also confuses Dick for Billy, showing a picture of Dick labeled Billy the Kid, a nickname to which Billy takes an immediate liking.
While the local authorities begin their hunt for Billy and the boys, the Regulators argue about continuing with their warrants or to go on the run. One of the men on their list of warrants, Buckshot Roberts (Brian Keith), tracks them down, barricades himself in an outhouse, and Dick dies in an intense shootout. Billy appoints himself as the new leader, the gang becomes famous and the U.S. Army is charged with bringing them to justice under Murphy's corrupt political influence.
The gang eludes attention for some time, and Charlie gets married in Mexico. While attending the wedding, Billy meets Pat Garrett (Patrick Wayne) who is not yet a sheriff, but warns Billy of an attempt on Alex's life by Murphy's men that will happen the next day. Thus the gang packs up and heads off to save Alex.
While in the home of their lawyer on the main street of Lincoln, New Mexico an entire posse of Murphy's men appear and surround the house, trapping them. Another intense shoot-out begins as the authorities, led by George W. Peppin, open fire on the house. Billy calls out one of the besiegers by name (Dutch Charley Kruling), then kills him with a snap long-range gunshot. A ceasefire is called for the night, but the battle continues the next morning when the Army rolls in, accompanied by Murphy. They torch the house and Chavez runs out the back, causing Steve to assert that he has deserted the gang. As the house begins to burn down, the men come up with an escape plan. They begin throwing Alex's possessions out the windows of the second floor. Billy places himself inside of a large trunk, and when it lands in front of the house, he takes his opponents by surprise when he leaps out and begins to open fire.
Almost at the same time, Doc bursts out of the winding stairway leading to the top floor with guns blazing, followed by Charlie and Steve. As all the men make it to the lawn, Billy is shot twice in his arms. Charlie challenges the bounty hunter John Kinney (Allen Keller); Kinney shoots Charlie and Charlie fires back. Charlie kills Kinney, but in the process takes a few more bullets and dies.
Chavez takes the Army by surprise. Screaming "Regulators!", he rides in leading horses for the others. He comes from behind the army and jumps their barricade to get his extra horses to the surviving Regulators. Billy jumps on one horse as Doc gets on the other. Doc is shot as his girlfriend Yen Sun (Alice Carter), Murphy's Chinese sex-slave, screams; he rides over to her and picks her up, and they ride off. Chavez tries to get Steve on a horse, but is wounded and falls to the ground. Steve helps Chavez mount a horse and sends the horse off so Chavez can escape, but is then left without a horse and unarmed. He is shot multiple times by the Army and Murphy's men. He falls into a dirty puddle, dead.
Alex cheers on the boys as they ride away. The army opens fire on him with a Gatling gun and he is killed. As the remaining men ride away, Murphy hurls threats and curses after them, but is stunned when Billy turns back, beyond gunshot range of most normal men. Saying, "Reap it Murphy, you son of a bitch", before shooting Murphy right between the eyes and killing him.
The final scene is a voice-over of Doc explaining what happened afterwards: Alex's widow caused a congressional investigation into the Lincoln County War. Chavez took work at a farm in California. Doc moved east to New York and married Yen Sun, whom he had saved from Murphy. Billy continued to ride until he was found and shot dead by Pat Garrett. Billy was buried next to Charlie Bowdre at Fort Sumner. A stranger went to the grave of Billy the Kid late one night and made a carving in the headstone. The epitaph read only one word: "PALS".
- Emilio Estevez as William H. "Billy the Kid" Bonney
- Kiefer Sutherland as Josiah Gordon "Doc" Scurlock
- Lou Diamond Phillips as Jose Chavez y Chavez
- Charlie Sheen as Richard "Dick" Brewer
- Dermot Mulroney as "Dirty Steve" Stephens
- Casey Siemaszko as Charlie Bowdre
- Terence Stamp as John Tunstall
- Jack Palance as Lawrence Murphy
- Terry O'Quinn as Alexander McSween
- Sharon Thomas as Susan McSween
- Geoffrey Blake as J. McCloskey
- Brian Keith as Buckshot Roberts
- Patrick Wayne as Pat Garrett
- Chase, Donald (22 May 1988). "Young Guns' Aridin' Thisaway". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
- Hutton, Paul (June 1990). "Dreamscape Desperado". New Mexico Magazine (68): 44–57.
- "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Young Guns' Breathes Life Into Old Genre". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "Review/Film; Hollywood's Youn Bloods in 'Youn Guns,' Tale of Outlawry". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "Young Guns". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- Voland, John (23 August 1988). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Freddy Shreds the Movie Competition". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- Easton, Nina J. (1 September 1988). "Summer Box Office Heats Up Despite Higher Ticket Prices, Biggest-Grossing Season Since '84 Seen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
- Klady, Leonard (January 8, 1989). "Box Office Champs, Chumps : The hero of the bottom line was the 46-year-old 'Bambi'". Los Angeles Times.
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