Superb Performances And Excellently Directed; BUT Poor Produ
Dr. Karl O. Edwards | Helena, Montana | 06/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I first viewed "Wild Bill" because it sounded like a great western, and at the time I was watching DVDs non-stop to help distract my attention from the extreme pain I was experiencing prior to surgery. I must have been more medicated than I remember, as I just watched the movie again, after purchasing it based on the fact that I "remembered" it as being a really terrific and enjoyable western, and I was appalled at the production errors and "historical bunk" in the film. Yet, while I did not enjoy it as much as I "remember" enjoying "Wild Bill," I still think that the film is terrific thanks to some truly memorable performances and crisp direction.
When I compare it to other films out there, and keep a "healthy thought" that "Wild Bill" is a movie about the "Legend" and not the "real, historical person," I find myself wanting to give the film five stars. Beyond a doubt, the film is one of Jeff Bridges finest performances; and the drama and action are awesome.
Then I remember counting the number of times Wild Bill fired his two pistols (which were pron to misfires) in the shoot out in the livery and I cringe. I cannot be certain, since the film does not actually always show Wild Bill's shots (you frequently just hear them, and see their effects), but I got a count of 29 rounds--more than double what he could have realistically fired. Nonetheless, the scene is pure excitement and deepens the "Legend" of Wild Bill. Conversely, I think the director did a marvelous job of editing in the great use of black and white "dreams" that help "recall" Wild Bill's "legendary life."
On the other hand, Charlie Utter, Hickok's friend and life-long companion is denigrated--or so I see it--into John Hurt's completely fictional character Charley Prince, an English gentleman who self proclaims himself, through Prince's narration of "Wild Bill," to be a fellow "drunk and gambler," who has become a "friend" (and traveling companion) to Wild Bill. While the funeral scene is better than many, it still failed to capture the true impact of Wild Bill's death on the community of Deadwood; and Charlie Utter's efforts to give the funeral dignity. Despite the fact that Wild Bill had been in Deadwood only a few days, according to historical accounts nearly every person in the camp--as well as many from elsewhere--attended the funeral; for even on August 3, 1876, it seems that "everyone" knew that a "true legend had come to an end."
Update--1 July 2008: If this review was not helpful to you, I would appreciate learning the reason(s) so I can improve my reviews. My goal is to provide help to potential buyers, not get into any arguments. So, if you only disagree with my opinion, could you please say so in the comments and not indicate that the review was not helpful. Thanks."