Purgatory (1999 film)
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary. It should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (June 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Written by||Gordon T. Dawson|
|Directed by||Uli Edel|
J. D. Souther
|Theme music composer||Brad Fiedel|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||94 minutes|
|Original release||January 10, 1999|
An outlaw band led by Blackjack Britton and Cavin Guthrie rob a bank. During the subsequent gunfight, a woman named Dolly Sloan is shot and dies in the arms of Cavin's nephew Sonny. The gang flees and is pursued by a posse. After passing through a dust storm, they escape through a tunnel and emerge at the other end in the town of Refuge. The gang is welcomed there but they are puzzled by the town's residents, who don't carry guns or swear, and who immediately flock to the church whenever the bell rings.
Sonny thinks he has seen some of the town's residents before, but he is unable to remember where. The rest of the outlaws occupy the saloon and begin causing trouble. Sonny befriends a woman named Rose who tries to steer him away from asking questions but, as he investigates further, he realizes that the town appears to be occupied by former notorious gunfighters. These include Wild Bill Hickok, the town’s Sheriff, Jesse James, Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday, although they deny their identities to Sonny. Later he talks to a gardener named Lamb whom he prompts to admit who he really is. Before Sonny can ask more questions, some of Blackjack's men tear up Lamb's garden. Enraged, he beats one to death with his shovel and is led away by a mysterious Native American who acts as Gatekeeper to the other realm.
While talking to Doc, Sonny lets slip the true nature of their gang. Upon hearing that they are all wanted outlaws, the Sheriff asks them to saddle up and leave town. Blackjack orders all his men to assemble in the saloon except Sonny, who is ejected from the gang by Cavin. Sonny sneaks in anyway and overhears the gang members planning to rob the town on their way out, while Cavin plans to rape Rose. Sonny joins the others in church, where he begs them to defend their town. The townspeople finally admit to Sonny that Refuge is a form of Purgatory. If they can go ten years while resisting the temptations of their former lives they are admitted to Heaven. They don't want to face off against Blackjack's gang because they fear it will cost them their souls. A frustrated Sonny leaves the church and is jumped by Blackjack and Cavin, who beat him unconscious.
The next morning, a battered Sonny straps on his guns and prepares to face Blackjack's gang alone. The townspeople are summoned by the church bells, but while most of them comply, Hickok, Holliday, James, and Billy all join Sonny, inspired by his willingness to die to protect Rose. A shootout erupts, during which Blackjack's gang is slaughtered, but Cavin manages to shoot Sonny before being killed by him in return. Sonny, despite being fatally wounded, does not feel pain and does not die. Hickok welcomes him to Refuge, realizing that Sonny has earned his second chance. When Blackjack arrives and challenges Hickok, he loses. “I guess I’m one of you now,” Blackjack jokes, realizing the truth of the situation. “I wouldn’t count on it,” Hickokk replies before dispatching Blackjack finally.
The Gatekeeper carries the bodies of Cavin and Blackjack to the edge of a fiery pit, into which they are thrown screaming. Hickok and the others grimly follow, but the stagecoach arrives and the driver tells them that by sacrificing their second chances to protect the others, they have secured a place in Heaven. "The Creator may be tough, but He ain't blind," he says. Sonny asks to stay behind with Rose, and Hickok hands him the Sheriff’s badge. The coach then leaves, riding upwards into the light.
- Sam Shepard as Sheriff Forrest/Wild Bill Hickok
- Eric Roberts as Blackjack Britton
- Randy Quaid as Doc Woods/Doc Holliday
- Peter Stormare as Cavin Guthrie
- Brad Rowe as Leon "Sonny" Miller
- Donnie Wahlberg as Deputy Glen/Billy The Kid
- J. D. Souther as Brooks/Jesse James
- Amelia Heinle as Rose/Betty McCullough
- Shannon Kenny as Ivy/Dolly Sloan
- John Dennis Johnston as Lamb/"Lefty" Slade
- Saginaw Grant as the Gatekeeper
- R.G. Armstrong as the Stagecoach Driver
- Richard Edson as Euripides
- Humphreys, Keigh (18 September 2015). "Weekend Film Recommendation ***With Interview of Star Brad Rowe***: Purgatory". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
- Paul Green (25 February 2016). Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns: Supernatural and Science Fiction Elements in Novels, Pulps, Comics, Films, Television and Games, 2d ed. McFarland. p. 193. ISBN 978-1-4766-2402-0.