The Quick and the Dead (1995)

the quick and the dead

“We aim, we fire, you die.”

The Scoop: 1995 R, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman and Russell Crowe

Tagline: In this town, you’re either one or the other

Summary Capsule: A *girl* enters a quick draw contest to get… REVENGE! And also, to break the glass ceiling for women gunfighters everywhere.


Justin’s rating: Five shots or six? Me? I’ve got nine chambers, baby!

Justin’s review: Poor Sam Raimi. Kinda. Prior to his blockbuster Spider-Man and his critically acclaimed A Simple Plan, the man just got no respect. For nearly two decades he diddled around in nearly every film genre as a director, and was almost universally panned by critics. Yet strangely enough, his unique directorial style — which utilized interesting camera angles, POV shots, sweeping close-ups, and a seriously twisted sense of dark humor — appealed to the underground circuit. Pick up any Raimi flick and you’re guaranteed a fascinating ride, whether it be in a medieval realm invaded by the undead (Army of Darkness), a scarred superhero who might be just worse than his foes (Darkman), or a moody gunfighter come lookin’ for some good old revenge, as in The Quick and The Dead.

What I don’t get is why Gene Hackman is in this film. I mean, the guy was in an OSCAR-WINNING film in 1991, playing the sadistic sheriff of an old western town. And here he is again, playing the sadistic dictator of an old western town. Was the man trying to pigeon-hole himself into this role? Don’t get me wrong — Hackman is at his best when he’s playing evil, but I just kept expecting Clint Eastwood to mosey on in during every scene in the film.

The Quick and The Dead was overshadowed in the Western revolution of the mid-90s by other, possibly better, flicks like Tombstone. At its core, it’s the quite simple story of a gunfighting tournament where everyone brings grudges, motives, and hankerin’ for revenge. Enter the leggiest gunfighter in the west, Lady (Sharon Stone), who no guy in their right mind would find appealing after being traumatized by Basic Instinct.

As with most western heroes, Lady has a troubled past, and despite her acrid manner, is really a softie at heart. Listen, I sorta bought into the whole tough-chick thing for a bulk of the film, but then she goes and breaks down sobbing in one scene, and that just blew it for me. Very unconvincing, sorta in a please-buy-that-I’m-acting way. “I’m so-so-so scared!” she cries. Yeah, okay, but you don’t have much of a reason to be. Your name is headlining this flick alongside Hackman, so I’d say you’ve got better than a 50-50 chance of pulling through it alive.

Harping on her character for a bit, I really wish script writers would wise up and realize that you don’t have to force your actors to stick to a two-dimensional characterization just because it’s what they learned in college English classes. A brooding, dark hero CAN have moments of levity. A heartless bad guy CAN show a compassionate side. A constant joker CAN burst out in one scene to show some intense wisdom. It’s called Creating a Complex Character, and apparently, only a rare few in Hollywood have figured that out. I was sooooo sick of Stone’s character growing and snapping and just being standoffish because beside her character description in the script were the words “loner” and “mysterious.” Is it too much to ask to make a hero that’s a loner and yet likable? Or a sidekick that can actually be something other than annoying?

Yet this is an unabashedly giddy film even so. Even when Raimi is trying to set a serious tone, there’s always something that just makes you chuckle under your breath, like the blind kid who finds and throws a bullet accurately within seconds. The gunfighters in the contest are a motley bunch, but I particularly liked Lance Hendrickson (Aliens) as Ace, the gunfighter with attitude. The man has really intense eyes, and now, a moustache to match.

Unfortunately, we here at Mutant Reviewers have to issue yet another Russell Crowe ALERT!, because here is Mr. Gladiator before his rise into stardom. Yet, the man shows no sign of change in his acting ability from 1994. Here he’s still the grumpy love interest/bad boy who frowns his way through most scenes as if he’s thinking about having to root that clog from his toilet by hand. Now, I’ve been told that when I am walking along and thinking, I have a tendency to look like I’m either mad or upset for some reason, so I assume that if I get my pecs up to par, I could be the next Russell! And then I could spit on the other winners at the Academy Awards!

And I’m not even going to get into how we should issue a Leonardo DiCaprio ALERT as well.

The Quick and The Dead is WesternLite, only three calories of plot mixed with several grams of shootouts and wacky camera tricks. If nothing else, I learned that a Colt revolver can put a perfectly round hole the size of an LP through a man’s head, without leaving any drippage at all! It’s these edutainment facts that keep me the smart dude I am today.

“I’m so mad at you right now that I could kiss you on the tip of your little nose!” “…what?”


  • Ace’s cool card trick
  • High noon showdown montage/quick-cuts
  • Tiny little sunglasses existed in the old west
  • Slow motion bottle pouring, match striking
  • Gary Sinese as Lady’s father in the flashbacks
  • Straight through the head like a bowling ball… ouch!
  • To get rid of a few bad guys, it’s perfectly acceptable to blow up the entire town
  • Weapon POV
  • A sex scene between Ellen and Cort was shot, but Stone and director Sam Raimi decided that it wasn’t a necessary part of the story. The scene was not included in the American release of the film, but international versions do include it.
  • Sharon Stone was so insistent that Leonardo DiCaprio appear in the film that she paid his salary personally.
  • Bruce Campbell had a cameo during the wedding scene and the bordello scene, but both were cut. Bruce Campbell appears only in the credits as the “Wedding Shemp”. Campbell has been in most of Raimi’s films (either starring or in a cameo role).

Groovy Quotes

Little girl: I think you’re great!
Lady: Grow up.

Cantrell: My name is Cantrell.
Shemp: How do you spell that?
Cantrell: Correctly.

Cort: There’s a click before the strike. Listen to the clock.

Kid: Am I fast, or is Sweden just a small place?

Scar: I need a woman.
Ellen: You need a bath.

Kid: No no no no, you see it’s a gun fight. We both have guns. We aim, we fire, you die.

Kid: I’m so damned fast I can wake up at the crack of dawn, rob two banks, a train and a stage coach, shoot the tail feathers off a duck’s ass at 300 feet, and still be back in bed before you wake up next to me.

Kid: Is it possible? Is it possible to improve on perfection?

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