Blu-ray Review: WILD BILL

WILD BILL was written and directed by Walter Hill and stars Jeff Bridges, Ellen Barkin, John Hurt, Diane Lane, Keith Carradine, David Arquette, Christina Applegate, Bruce Dern and James Gammon. The score is by Van Dyke Parks.

The sublime writer-director Walter Hill’s Wild Bill (1995) focuses on the last days of mythic gunfighter, Wild Bill Hickok (Jeff Bridges), consorting in Deadwood with Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin), observed by a longtime friend (John Hurt), and haunted by the ghosts of his past, from an old flame (Diane Lane) to a young man (David Arquette) who announces his intention to kill Bill.

This 1995 western takes place in Deadwood, South Dakota where Wild Bill Hickok has arrived and it doesn’t take long for his reputation to catch up with him. This brings out a number of antagonists who want to take out the famous lawman but he’s always able to outwit his adversaries as well as be quicker on the draw. This incarnation focuses on Wild Bill‘s final days and shows his “on again, off again” relationship with Calamity Jane who was in love with him. Unfortunately for her, Bill never really left the same way. There’s a number of famous characters that crosses paths with Wild Bill in the movie but Jack McCall is the one who stands out the most because he’s the young man who finally takes out the lawman. The two have a past and that’s revealed as the movie plays out.

Okay, Wild Bill came along in the mid-90’s and followed other popular westerns like Unforgiven, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp. Those movies did good at the box office but unfortunately this one didn’t fair so well because it’s a strange watch and kind of trippy. The movie is definitely more character driven and doesn’t rely so much on action. Don’t worry because there’s still some gunslinging going on. The story focuses on Hickok’s last days when he’s dealing with his failing eye sight as well as battling some demons from his past. Wild Bill was a lawman but he was also an outlaw and did a lot of people wrong in his travels and this weighed heavy on him as he got older. Unfortunately, one of the people he crossed during his adventures caught up with him and was able to get some revenge. Wild Bill died at the age of 39 years old.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Wild Bill by Julie Kirgo and more original artwork on the front and back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio. This is another fine job by the Twilight Time gang!

Bottom line is, it had been a really long time since I had watched Wild Bill and enjoyed revisiting this 90’s incarnation of the legendary lawman. The movie focuses on the last days of Wild Bill Hickok but it also features other famous legends like the gunslinging Long Riders, the infamous Dog Soldiers and Calamity Jane. There have been a number of movies about the gunslinger over the years but this one here is a little different from the rest. Walter Hill is mostly known for his action movies and I’ve watched many of them but this one here is one strange beast. It plays like a western that’s on a psychodelic shroom trip at times because of all the vision quests (flashbacks) that Wild Bill has. The movie had a lot of potential because it has a fantastic cast and one of the great directors in the biz but I feel like the story is the movie’s downfall because it’s really kind of messy. Still, it’s an interesting watch and deserving of this nice high-definition upgrade by Twilight Time. Wild Bill is now available on Blu-ray and has a limited edition of only 3,000 units.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 98 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) / Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include Twilght Time’s trademark isolated music track and the original theatrical trailer.

  • Isolated Music Track
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

 

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