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Winner of four Oscars, including best picture and director, this is, quite simply, one of the finest films ever made in the genre. Exploring the harsh realities of frontier life, Clint Eastwood depicts the west as an unforgiving place where tragedy strikes every time somebody draws a gun. It's clear from the fevered manner in which Saul Rubinek's dime novelist character gathers his Wild West stories from the last eyewitnesses that an era is about to pass into legend. Screenwriter David Webb Peoples reinforces this shift in attitudes through the film's understated feminism and its assertion that what once passed for law and order often had little to do with justice. Eastwood's own world-weary performance as William Munny, a retired gunslinger forced to strap on the six-shooters one last time to feed his children, is exemplary, cleverly drawing on our familiarity with his "Man with No Name" persona to convey the magnitude of the disgust that he now feels at the prospect of killing. The support playing of Morgan Freeman as his former partner, Richard Harris as vain killer English Bob and Oscar-winning Gene Hackman as the vicious Sheriff Daggett is unsurpassable. It's easy to see why Eastwood dedicated the film to Sergio Leone and Don Siegel - this is both a testament and a riposte to his work with them. Gone is the efficient, detached bloodletting of Leone's Dollars trilogy and Siegel's Dirty Harry and in its place comes the greater emphasis on character and cause and effect that ranks Eastwood alongside his two mentors, at the same time redefining the genre. You won't forgive yourself if you miss it.
William Munny is a retired, once-ruthless killer turned gentle widower and hog farmer. To help support his two motherless children, he accepts one last bounty-hunter mission to find the men who brutalized a prostitute. Joined by his former partner and a cocky greenhorn, he takes on a corrupt sheriff.
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