Silverado (film)

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Theatrical release poster by Bob Peak
Directed byLawrence Kasdan
Written byLawrence Kasdan
Mark Kasdan
Produced byLawrence Kasdan
CinematographyJohn Bailey
Edited byCarol Littleton
Music byBruce Broughton
Delphi III Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • July 10, 1985 (1985-07-10)
Running time
133 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$23 million[1]
Box office$32,192,570[2]

Silverado is a 1985 American Western film produced and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, and written by Kasdan and his brother Mark. It stars Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover and Kevin Costner. The supporting cast features Brian Dennehy, Rosanna Arquette, John Cleese, Jeff Goldblum, Lynne Whitfield, and Linda Hunt.

The film was produced by Columbia Pictures and Delphi III Productions, and distributed to theatres by Columbia, and by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for home media. The original soundtrack, with a score composed by Bruce Broughton, was released by Geffen Records. On November 12, 2005, an expanded two-disc version of the score was released by the Intrada Records label.

Silverado premiered in the United States on July 10, 1985. Through an 11-week run, the film was shown at 1,190 theaters at its widest release, and grossed $32,192,570 at the box office. Generally met with positive critical reviews, it was nominated for Best Sound and Best Original Score at the 58th Academy Awards.


The cowboy Emmett is ambushed by three armed men while he sleeps in an isolated shack, but he kills them and takes possession of two horses. He plans to meet his brother Jake in Turley, travel together to see their sister, Kate, in Silverado then continue to California.

On the way to Turley, Emmett finds Paden, clad only in his union suit, lying in the desert after being robbed and left to die. He lends Paden his extra horse, who accompanies him to Turley.

At a cavalry outpost, Paden notices the man who stole his horse and saddle and hurriedly buys a gun with money borrowed from Emmett; the thief shoots first, but Paden kills him. He runs into Cobb, a former criminal associate, who lends him money to buy new clothes and wants to hire him. However, Paden declines.

While eating at a saloon in Turley, Emmett and Paden witness a black cowboy, Mal, being harassed by several men and the racist saloon owner. He defends himself until Sheriff Langston shows up and orders him to leave town.

Paden and Emmett learn from Langston that Jake is to be hanged for murder the next day. Emmett intends to break his brother out of jail, but Paden says that he can't get involved. Getting a drink at the saloon, Paden sees the other man who robbed him and kills him in a duel to get back his hat and gun. Langston arrests him and puts him in Jake's cell.

The next morning, Emmett sets fire to the gallows as a diversion while Jake and Paden break out of jail. The three escape town, pursued by Langston's posse. Mal shoots at the posse from a distance, revealing himself to be a crack shot, and the lawmen abandon their pursuit. Mal is also headed to Silverado to visit his elderly parents.

The four men encounter a wagon train, headed to open land near Silverado, whose money box has been stolen. They successfully recover the money from the outlaws, then escort the settlers. Paden takes an interest in Hannah, one of the settlers, and he escorts the group to their new land. Near Silverado, Mal departs to find his parents' farm.

Emmett and Jake reunite with Kate, her husband J.T., and son Augie. It's revealed that Emmett spent five years in prison for killing a rancher after their families feuded over land rights. Mal finds his father, Ezra, living destitute in the hills and his ranch burned down; McKendrick – the son of the rancher Emmett had killed – seized the land and Mal's mother died. Reaching Silverado, Paden visits the saloon and meets the manager, Stella. Cobb, the owner as well as Silverado's sheriff, hires Paden as a new pit boss.

Emmett discovers that McKendrick hired the gunmen who tried to murder him earlier. Mal learns his sister, Rae, has become the mistress of notorious gambler "Slick" Stanhope. Slick betrays Mal, who is beaten by Cobb's deputies and put in jail. McKendrick's men murder Ezra, assault Emmett, burn J.T.'s land office, and kidnap Jake and Augie. Stella, who knows Cobb is in McKendrick's pocket, reveals to Paden that she despises what the two men have done to Silverado and urges him to make things right.

Rae breaks her brother out but is wounded. The three men attack McKendrick's ranch, kill most of his men, and rescue Jake and Augie while McKendrick flees. The group splits up: Jake outsmarts and kills Cobb's right-hand man, Tyree; Mal rescues Rae from Slick and stabs him to death with his own knife; Emmett deals with the remaining corrupt deputies and kills McKendrick; Paden faces off with Cobb in a duel and kills him.

After saying their goodbyes to friends and loved ones, Emmett and Jake finally head for California. Mal and his sister reconcile, deciding to rebuild their family's homestead. Paden becomes the new sheriff of Silverado.



The film was shot primarily on location at the Cook Ranch in New Mexico.[3] In 1984, Lawrence and Mark Kasdan and crew were out scouting a remote area of New Mexico by helicopter, hoping to find the most suitable place to build the town of Silverado.[4] The location manager appeared at the property of local natives Bill and Marian Cook. At that time they wanted to build only two to three structures, offering Cook a "casual number" as a location fee. "There wasn't any great motivation for me one way or another, but I said okay. It just grew from that into a big budget movie and the Silverado set was built," Cook recalled.

In an interview with Trailer Addict, actor Scott Glenn related how casting profoundly influences directing.[5] In reference to different actors working together, he mentioned how he "really liked" Kevin Costner, and how he thought Kevin was "easy and comfortable" to be around. He said, "there is real magic going on with that performance." Glenn spent his time kidding around with Costner addressing him by saying, "hey movie star!" during that earlier stage in his career.[5]


Critical response[edit]

Among mainstream critics in the U.S., the film received mostly positive reviews.[6] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 78% based on reviews from 36 critics, with an average score of 6.8/10. The consensus reads, "Boasting rich detail and a well-told story, Silverado is a rare example of an '80s Hollywood Western done right."[7] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average out of 100 to critics' reviews, the film received a score of 64% based on 14 reviews.[6]

"Silverado is the work of Lawrence Kasdan, the man who wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it has some of the same reckless brilliance about it."
—Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times[8]

Critic Janet Maslin, writing in The New York Times, said of director Kasdan, "he creates the film's most satisfying moments by communicating his own sheer enjoyment in revitalizing scenes and images that are so well-loved."[9] Impressed, she exclaimed, "Silverado is a sweeping, glorious-looking western that's at least a full generation removed from the classic films it brings to mind."[9] Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times called it "sophisticated" while remarking, "This is a story, you will agree, that has been told before. What distinguishes Kasdan's telling of it is the style and energy he brings to the project."[8] In the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Stack wrote that the film "delivers elaborate gun-fighting scenes, legions of galloping horses, stampeding cattle, a box canyon, covered wagons, tons of creaking leather and even a High Noonish duel." He openly mused, "How it manages to run the gamut of cowboy movie elements without getting smart-alecky is intriguing."[10] In a mixed review, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune, said the film was "a completely successful physical attempt at reviving the western, but its script would need a complete rewrite for it to become more than just a small step in a full-scale western revival."[11] Another ambivalent review came from Jay Carr of The Boston Globe. He noted that Silverado "plays like a big-budget regurgitation of old Westerns. What keeps it going is the generosity that flows between Kasdan and his actors. It's got benevolent energies, but not the more primal kind needed to renew the standard Western images and archetypes."[12] In an entirely negative critique, film critic Jay Scott of The Globe and Mail said the all too familiar "manipulative Star Wars-style score is the only novelty on tap in Silverado, which has a plot too drearily complicated and arid to summarize".[13] Left equally unimpressed was Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader. Commenting on director Kasdan's style, he said his "considerable skills as a plot carpenter seem to desert him as soon as the story moves to the town of the title." As far as the supporting cast was concerned, he dryly noted, "none of them assumes enough authority to carry the moral and dramatic center of the film."[14] Giving Silverado 4 out of 5 stars, author Ian Freer of Empire, thought the film was the "kind of picture that makes you want to play cowboys the moment it is over." He exclaimed, "Whereas many of the westerns from the ‘70s try a revisionist take on the genre, Silverado offers a wholehearted embracing of western traditions."[15]

The staff at Variety reserved praise for the film stating that the real rewards of the picture lie in its "visuals" saying, "rarely has the West appeared so alive, yet unlike what one carries in his mind's eye. Ida Random's production design is thoroughly convincing in detail."[16] Julie Salamon writing for The Wall Street Journal, voiced positive sentiment joyfully exclaiming that Silverado "looks great and moves fast. Mr. Kasdan has packed his action well against the fearsomely long, dusty stretches of Western plain."[17] Describing some pitfalls, David Sterritt of The Christian Science Monitor said, "When pure storytelling takes over after an hour or so, the picture becomes less original and engaging."[18] Sterritt however was quick to admit, "The cinematography by John Bailey is stunning," but he frustratingly noted that "Like the last movie Lawrence Kasdan gave us, The Big Chill, it's best when the carefully chosen cast throws itself into developing characters and building their relationships."[18] Injecting some positive opinion, the staff at Total Film viewed Silverado as a creation of the "Kasdan brothers' ebullient love letter to the horse operas of their youth", while throwing in "every Western cliché imaginable. It's not as rousing as it thinks, despite the efforts of Bruce Broughton's strident score, but looks terrific - all big skies and wide-open spaces."[19]

"For all its mosaic of nice details, Silverado is still a faintly hollow creation-constructed, not torn from the heart."
—Sheila Benson, writing for the Los Angeles Times[20]

Richard Corliss of Time didn't find the picture to be compelling, stating how the film "sprays the buckshot of its four or five story lines across the screen with the abandon of a drunken galoot aiming at a barn door. Though the film interrupts its chases and shootouts to let some fine actors stare meaningfully or spit out a little sagebrush wisdom, it rarely allows them to build the camaraderie that an old cowhand like Gabby Hayes exuded with no sweat."[21] He ultimately came to the conclusion that Silverado "proves it takes more than love of the western to make a good one. Maybe the dudes at K-Tell were a mite too slick for the job."[21] Similarly, the staff at TV Guide described how "Lawrence Kasdan bloats the plot with dozens of side stories that, in painfully predictable detail, show how each of our heroes has a reason for being in Silverado and why they decide to stick their necks out. Though much of the running time is devoted to these expository passages, it's all very basic and shallow."[22]

At the 58th Academy Awards, Silverado was nominated for Best Music (Original Score), and Best Sound (Donald O. Mitchell, Rick Kline, Kevin O'Connell and David M. Ronne).[23] In 1986, the film received a nomination for the Artios Award in the category of Best Casting for a Feature Film (Drama) by the Casting Society of America.[24]

Box office[edit]

The film premiered in cinemas on July 9, 1985 in wide release throughout the United States. During its opening weekend, Silverado opened in 7th place, grossing $3,522,897 at 1,168 locations.[2] The film Back to the Future came in first place during that weekend grossing $10,555,133.[25] The film's revenue increased by 3% in its second week of release, earning $3,631,204. For that particular weekend, it moved up to 5th place screening in 1,190 theaters. Back to the Future remained in first place grossing $10,315,305 in box office revenue.[26] During its final release week in theaters, Silverado opened in a distant 11th place with $741,840 in revenue.[27] It went on to top out domestically at $32,192,570 in total ticket sales through an 11-week theatrical run.[2] For 1985 as a whole, Silverado would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 28.[28]


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Home media[edit]

The film was released on RCA CED videodisc format and VHS in December 1985 and on Criterion laserdisc in August 1991. It was rereleased on VHS video format on July 8, 1994.[citation needed] A collector's edition VHS featuring a remastered recording was released on June 1, 1999.[31] The Region 1 widescreen edition was released on DVD in the United States on February 3, 2009. Special features include filmographies, the making of Silverado, and subtitles in Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), English, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.[32] Additionally, a two-disc Special Edition DVD was also released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on April 5, 2005. Special features included A Return to Silverado with Kevin Costner featurette, Along the Silverado Trail: A Western Historian's Commentary, Superbit presentation, "Top Western Shootouts" featurette, talent files, bonus previews, an exclusive 16-page movie scrapbook, and collectible Silverado playing cards.[33]


The original motion picture soundtrack for Silverado was released by Geffen Records in 1985.[citation needed] In 1992 Intrada Records issued an expanded edition on compact disc;[citation needed] then on November 12, 2005, an expanded two-disc version was released by the Intrada Records music label. The score was composed and conducted by Bruce Broughton and mixed by Donald O. Mitchell. Gene Feldman and Erma Levin edited the music.[3]

Silverado: Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by
ReleasedNovember 12, 2005 (2005-11-12)
GenreContemporary classical
LabelIntrada Records
ProducerBruce Broughton
Disc: 1
1."Main Title"4:50
2."Paden's Horse"1:37
3."Tyree and Turley"3:42
4."That Ain't Right"1:17
5."Paden's Hat"3:40
6."The Getaway/Riding As One"6:10
7."Den Of Thieves"1:49
8."The Strong Box Rescue"1:57
9."On to Silverado"6:26
10."McKendrick's Men"1:27
11."Ezra's Death"1:56
12."An Understanding Boss"1:51
13."Party Crashers"1:41
14."Tyree and Paden"0:56
15."McKendrick's Brand"0:53
16."You're Empty, Mister/Emmett's Rescue"3:46
17."Behind the Church"1:19
18."Augie is Taken"2:39
Total length:47:56
Disc: 2
1."Worried About the Dog"2:12
2."Prelude To a Battle"4:53
3."McKendrick Waits/The Stampede/Finishing at McKendrick's"8:26
4."Hide and Watch/Jake Gets Tyree/Then Slick, Then McKendrick"9:33
5."Goodbye, Cobb"2:09
6."We'll Be Back (End Credits)"4:28
7."The Bradley Place"1:51
8."Jake Gets Tyree (Original Version)"2:19
9."The Silverado Waltz"2:06
Total length:37:57


  1. ^ "Kasdan: Hi-yo, 'Silverado'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Silverado". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Archived from the original on January 3, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Silverado (1985)". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  4. ^ "Cook Ranch and the Silverado Set". New Mexico Tourism Department. Archived from the original on December 23, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Silverado: Interview - Scott Glenn". July 13, 2010. Archived from the original on August 8, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Silverado". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on December 4, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  7. ^ "Silverado (1985)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on April 15, 2019. Retrieved December 2, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (10 July 1985). SilveradoChicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  9. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (10 July 1985). SCREEN: 'SILVERADO,' A WESTERN Archived 2021-05-03 at the Wayback Machine. The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  10. ^ Stack, Peter (10 July 1985). Silverado p.52. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  11. ^ Siskel, Gene (10 July 1985). Silverado p.5. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  12. ^ Carr, Jay (10 July 1985). Silverado p.26. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  13. ^ Scott, Jay (10 July 1985). Silverado p. S7. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  14. ^ Kehr, Dave (July 1985). Silverado Archived 2011-05-27 at the Wayback Machine. Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  15. ^ Freer, Ian (July 1985). Silverado (PG-13) Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine. Empire. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  16. ^ Variety Staff (31 December 1984). Silverado Archived 2021-05-03 at the Wayback Machine. Variety. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  17. ^ Salamon, Julie (11 July 1985). Silverado p.1. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  18. ^ a b Sterritt, David (19 July 1985). Freeze Frames/A weekly update of film releases Archived 2021-05-03 at the Wayback Machine. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  19. ^ Total Film Staff (1 December 1999). Silverado Archived 2013-07-20 at the Wayback Machine. Total Film. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  20. ^ Benson, Sheila (10 July 1985). Silverado p.1. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  21. ^ a b Corliss Richard, (12 April 2005). Cinema: Cuisinartistry Archived 2011-01-24 at the Wayback Machine. Time. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  22. ^ TV Guide Staff (July 1985). Silverado: Review Archived 2011-04-05 at the Wayback Machine. TV Guide. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
  23. ^ "Nominees & Winners for the 58th Academy Awards". Archived from the original on April 8, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  24. ^ "Artios Award Winners". Casting Society of America. Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  25. ^ "July 12–14, 1985 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Archived from the original on December 26, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  26. ^ "July 19-21, 1985 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  27. ^ "September 20–22, 1985 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Archived from the original on December 26, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  28. ^ "1985 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Archived from the original on January 4, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  29. ^ "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  30. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  31. ^ Silverado (Collector's Edition) VHS (1985). Columbia Tristar Home Video. 1999. ISBN 0767814037.
  32. ^ "Silverado (Single Disc Version) - DVD". Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  33. ^ "Silverado Giftset (2 discs, Movie Scrapbook And Silverado Playing Cards) - DVD". Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]