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Wild Bill (1995)
Wild Bill Hickok, famed lawman and gunman of the Old West, is haunted by his past and his reputation. He is loved by, but cannot love, Calamity Jane. Dogging his trail is young Jack McCall, who blames Bill for abandoning the boy's mother and destroying her life. McCall has sworn to kill Bill, and Bill's ghosts, his failing eyesight, and his fondness for opium may make McCall's task easier.

Audiences overlooked this film, one of the better westerns in several years, featuring yet another terrific performance by Jeff Bridges, America's most underrated movie actor. As James Butler Hickock, he captures the sense of a man at the end of his career, one of the first media superstars who discovers that his legend is more burden than blessing.

As he heads toward his final hand of poker in Deadwood, South Dakota, he flashes back to his younger days and the events that built his reputation, even as he copes with encroaching blindness caused by syphilis.
Walter Hill blends action and elegy, utilizing a screenplay based both on Pete Dexter's novel Deadwood and on Thomas Babe's play Fathers and Sons. Wild Bill features strong supporting performances by John Hurt (as a Hickock sidekick) but the centerpiece is the sad, manly performance by Bridges, who more than measures up to the part.

Unfortunately, 'Wild Bill' abandons both the history and legend of James Butler Hickok for the greater part of the movie in favor of its own inovations on the tale that simply fall flat. Most of the story is told in Deadwood, the boom town where Hickok was killed, and it attempts to give explanation and motivation to young Jack McCall's murder of Wild Bill. This is not only unnecessary, as the tale already had a fitting ending (an unbalanced young coward murders a legend hoping to make a name), but destoys the credibility of the film, by adding silly scenes such as McCall and a gang of hired toughs holding Bill and friends hostage in a bar previous to the murder.
Had 'Wild Bill' stuck to the legend rather than inovating, or had it attempted to get behind the legend to the history, this could have been an outstanding movie. The scenes that did stay close to the legend were outstandingly well done, and give a hint of what this film could have been. As is, I would still recommend that you check out 'Wild Bill'

Impressive cast, like the movie itself, delivers unevenly - 6/10
Marks : 6/10
Director Walter Hill Jeff Bridges James Butler 'Wild Bill' Hickok
Writing Peter Dexter (book)
Thomas Babe (play)
John Hurt Charley Prince
Cinematography Lloyd Ahern II Keith Carradine Buffalo Bill Cody
    Diane Lane Susannah Moore
    Ellen Barkin Calamity Jane
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