Jeff Bridges is Wild Bill in... Wild Bill and Ellen Barkin is Calamity Jane. In substance, this is your run-of-the-mill western movie - You have the good guys and the bad guys, easily defined, and the bad guys get shot up by the good guys... well, the good guy. However, in filming technique, Wild Bill is a rather original piece of work, but maybe just a little too strange.
The story skips through Wild Bill's early life rather quickly and then slows to a pace as he enters Deadwood, the final town he would ever be in alive. There's some kid in the town (Arquette) who has it out for Bill because Bill abandoned his mother and then killed her next lover. Bill is reluctant to kill the kid because he keeps on having flashbacks of the kid's mother (Lane) and other things, usually when he's under the influence of opium.
Wild Bill is a really hard movie to rate. In some ways - the shootouts, the acting, and the story - it is really good, but it also seems extremely cluttered. The black and white flashbacks that occur throughout the movie, some useful to the story, others not, can be really weird, and a conventional approach would have been better.
Also, the ending is strange. Bill is taken hostage by the kid and a bunch of hired assassins, but they end up letting him go. But Bill goes after them, kills them within a few seconds, and then buys the kid a drink. Things go from there, including an apparent nervous breakdown by Calamity Jane, and is not a satisfying ending.
Wild Bill had good intentions but it is not a stable movie to watch, nor does have much of anything new.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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