#227 / 365 – ‘Unforgiven’ (1992) – 131 mins
IMDb Challenge #135 / 250 – Ranked #100 – DVD Collection
The town of Big Whisky is full of normal people trying to lead quiet lives. Cowboys try to make a living. Sheriff ‘Little Bill’ (Gene Hackman) tries to build a house and keep a heavy-handed order. The town whores just try to get by.Then a couple of cowboys cut up a whore. Unsatisfied with Bill’s justice, the prostitutes put a bounty on the cowboys. The bounty attracts a young gun billing himself as ‘The Schofield Kid’, and aging killer William Munny (Clint Eastwood). Munny reformed for his young wife, and has been raising crops and two children in peace. But his wife is gone. Farm life is hard. And Munny is no good at it. So he calls his old partner Ned (Morgan Freeman), saddles his ornery nag, and rides off to kill one more time, blurring the lines between heroism and villainy, man and myth.
Dedicated to his mentor Sergio Leone to whom The Man with No Name, Clint Eastwood starred in three of Leone’s “Spaghetti Westerns” (‘A Fistful of Dollars’, ‘For a Few Dollars More’ and ‘The Good The Bad and the Ugly’), Eastwood’s 1992 directed Oscar-winning picture is as dark and bleak a Western as you are likely to find. Unforgiven is all about the price of killing and violence. William Munny’s soul has been so soiled that you wonder whether he’s past the point of redemption.
This is the films great strength is the way it shows the reality of violence and its consequences. Virtually every plot angle hinges on this act and those that perpetrate it. Despite its dark nature, Unforgiven is also sprinkled with humor. When Little Bill refers to English Bob not as the “Duke of Death” but as the “Duck of Death.”
#228 / 365 – ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941) – 100 mins
IMDb Challenge #136 / 250 – Ranked #99 – DVD Collection
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) is a partner in a private-eye firm who finds himself hounded by police when his partner is killed whilst tailing a man. The girl who asked him to follow the man turns out not to be who she says she is, and is really involved in something to do with the ‘Maltese Falcon’, a gold-encrusted life-sized statue of a falcon, the only one of its kind.
John Huston’s, The Maltese Falcon is probably the film that singlehandedly spawned the entire film noir genre and the one of the first films that made Humphrey Bogart a true Hollywood star.
The film is an endless maze of schemes, danger, crime, drama, and deception, and wastes no time in drawing the viewer into its delicious spell. The film benefits from a slightly less convoluted plot than that Bogart’s other and later film noir, ‘The Big Sleep’ (1946). The Maltese Falcon is still an excellent film but I don’t think it’s as good a classic as the latter due its lack of sizzling chemistry between its leads, which was clearly on display in an abundance between husband and wife team of Bogart and Bacall in the Big Sleep.