Tuesday, August 8, 2017


“It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.”

This month marks the 25th anniversary of Clint Eastwood’s UNFORGIVEN.

Directed by Eastwood and starring himself in the lead role, UNFORGIVEN told the tale of William Munny, an aging gunslinger and former outlaw who teams up with his best friend Ned and a young, wanna-be outlaw to pull one last job; the execution of a cowboy who sliced up a prostitute. It was a patient tale of redemption and lifelong affirmation; saturated in Old West film lore.

It was written by David Webb Peoples, who had penned the Oscar nominated THE DAY AFTER TRINITY (1980), and co-written the sci-fi cult-favorite BLADE RUNNER (1982). Peoples had been playing with the concept since the late 1970’s, and Eastwood actually passed on the project in the 1980’s.

When Eastwood did get around to UNFORGIVEN, he immediately cast himself in the lead role. As a veteran of the old Spaghetti Westerns which had made him famous, Eastwood easily slipped back into the saddle, and at 61 years old during the time of filming, was well equipped to inject some grumpy old-man with a burden into the character. The rest of the cast was ensemble of Hollywood heavyweights, including Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, and Frances Fisher. Jaimz Woolvett, in his early 20’s, would be cast as the young gunslinger looking to make a name for himself.

UNFORGIVEN was a critical and box office hit. It opened at number one in the first week of August of 1992, and at the time was the best opening for an Eastwood film. After its success in Awards Season, it would return to the Top 10 eight months after its initial release, and would stay in theatres for nearly a full year.

And during that Awards Season, UNFORGIVEN was destined to ride off with gold. It would be nominated for nine Oscars, winning four; Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman, Best Director for Eastwood, and Best Film Editing for Joel Cox. Gene Hackman would also win a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for Supporting Actor, and Eastwood would also win a Globe for directing. It was added to the National Film Registry in 2004, and in 2008, the American Film Institute (AFI) would list UNFORGIVEN as the 4th best film in the American Western genre.


This Blogger’s first awareness of UNFORGIVEN came a few months before the film was released. That first, memorable trailer for the film, which featured a bloodied and beaten Richard Harris standing at the back of a stagecoach yelling, “bloody savages”, immediately grabbed this Blogger’s attention. It was a harsh and brutally honest film, and even the title carried a Biblical weight. Today, UNFORGIVEN stands tall as one of the finest films the Old West genre has ever had to offer. It’s themes of old age, youth, philosophies on life and death, and the final mystery of William Munny, left for the audience to ponder, made it an experience to be discussed for decades to come. Eastwood crafted UNFORGIVEN as a loving tribute to the Old West and the mentors who guided him as a cinematic gunslinger as far back as the 1960’s. He has said that UNFORGIVEN would be his final ride into the genre, and when the man finally crosses the horizon into the sunset, he will be remembered for crafting one of, if not the best Western of all time.

“Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

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