'90s Movie Month! "Unforgiven" Review

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A dark westerner directed and produced by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film tells the story of William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had hung up his guns and turned to farming. Eastwood stars in the lead role, alongside Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman & Richard Harris.
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'90s Movie Month! "Unforgiven" Review

Rating: R (for language, sexuality, and violence)
Length: 131 minutes
Release Date: Aug. 7, 1992
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Genre: Western

Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris star as the four leads in "Unforgiven," a 1992 American western film both produced and directed by Clint Eastwood himself. "Unforgiven" is a surprisingly dark and dramatic western that portrays the violent side of the Old West instead of the romanticized version found in most films.

The film takes place in the Old West in a small town in Wyoming called Big Whiskey. The town's prostitutes offer up a substantial reward for the death of two cowboys named "Davey-Boy" Bunting and Quick Mike who severely disfigured Delilah Fitzgerald, one of the sweetest girls in town. Their local sheriff, Little Bill (Gene Hackman), was lenient with the cowboys instead of killing them for their crimes. As a former gunfighter and peace-loving man, Little Bill does not even allow guns in his town. When the ladies of the town put out a bounty on Quick Mike and Davey-Boy, Little Bill is concerned about the incentive.

In the plains of Kansas many miles away from Big Whiskey, the Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), is looking for recruits to help him kill Davey-Boy and Quick Mike so that he can claim the $1,000 bounty. He goes so far as to seek out Clint Eastwood's character, William Munny, a notorious ex-bandit who owns a pig farm he started with his late wife. Now sober and repentant of his life of wrongdoings, Munny is nothing like the man he used to be, and he struggles every day to raise his two children to follow in their mothers' footsteps instead of his own. When he hears about the quest to kill Quick Mike and Davey-Boy, Munny refuses at first, but he changes his mind after several days of reconsideration, because his pig farm is not doing well and the bounty money could change the futures of his two children. Munny sets off to catch up with the Schofield Kid after recruiting Ned Logan, a happily married retired gunfighter portrayed by Morgan Freeman, who reluctantly goes with him.

Back in Old Whiskey, famous gunfighter English Bob (Richard Harris), arrives at the town in pursuit of the bounty on Quick Mike and Davey-Boy. He's being followed around by a photographer named Beauchamp, (Saul Rubinek). When sheriff Little Bill finds out an armed gunman is in town, he and his deputies disarm him and beat him within inches of his life in an effort to discourage other gunmen who might be after the bounty as well. After Little Bill kicks English Bob out of town, Beauchamp decides to stay in town to write about Little Bill instead.

When William Munny arrives in town with the Schofield Kid and Ned Logan during a heavy storm, they first go to the saloon where the prostitutes operate to learn more about the current location of Davey-Boy and Quick Mike. The Schofield Kid and Logan are quickly ushered away to get "advances" on their payment from the ladies of the brothel. Feeling feverish after riding through the storm for so long, Munny stays in the saloon to recover, but he is soon confronted by Little Bill and his deputies. They have no idea who he is, but they beat him nearly to death anyway when they find a pistol on him. In spite of Munny's wounds, the three cowboys set out three days later to finish the quest that brought them to Big Whiskey in the first place.

The four lead roles are extremely distinct, and the actors' portrayals of the different characters earned plenty of attention from critics and audiences alike. Thanks to the film's massive success, Clint Eastwood decided to end his western career on a high note and said he would no longer direct, produce, or star in movies of that genre.

Along with the Oscar for Best Picture, "Unforgiven" earned Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Film Acting. Gene Hackman won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for his brutal portrayal of sheriff Little Bill. Eastwood received a nomination for Best Actor but lost narrowly to Al Pacino for his role in "Scent of a Woman."

"Unforgiven" enjoyed the top position at the box office during its opening weekend and earned over $13 million, making it the best opening for a film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. When "Unforgiven" left theaters, it had earned $160 million worldwide, with most of its ticket sales from the United States. "Unforgiven" followed 1931's "Cimarron" and 1990's "Dances with Wolves" as the third western to win the coveted Oscar for Best Picture.

Rating: 4 out of 5