Wild Bill | Chicago Reader

Wild Bill

Jeff Bridges stars as Wild Bill Hickok in this ambitious and flavorsome picture (1995) by Walter Hill. Based on Thomas Babe's play Fathers and Sons and Peter Dexter's novel Deadwood, it's not only a western but also an art picture of sorts, with striking production design by Joseph Nemec III and cinematography by Lloyd Ahern (with varying uses of black and white as well as color). The film ultimately comes up short when it has to deal with Hickok as something other than a legend; Hill is hampered as usual by his fixation on iconography. Ellen Barkin seems uncomfortable as Calamity Jane, but the remainder of the cast—John Hurt, Diane Lane, David Arquette, Christina Applegate, Keith Carradine, Bruce Dern, James Gammon, and Marjoe Gortner—does a pretty good job of playing scenery. You may feel a little let down by the end, but there's plenty of grit and atmosphere along the way. 97 min.

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