Thursday, September 11, 2014

Silverado (1985)

  Emmett: "Lyin' Pete said you'd hang. I guess tomorrow at dawn he'll be proved right."
  Sheriff Langston: "Ten A.M."
  Emmett: "Oh, right. I always thought they did it at dawn."

     I'm always on the look out for a good western to watch, so when I found this at the library-- a western I'd never heard of with Kevin Costner and Kevin Kline AND Danny Glover (and if that's not enough, a score composed by Bruce Broughton), I picked it up off the shelf without a second thought.

  I'm always pleased when a movie I previously knew nothing about turns out to be good, because quite often it doesn't happen that way. Silverado is one of those pleasantly surprising, exhilarating, just plain fun movies. It's not exactly what you might call a classic western; it's not a sprawling family saga, or an epic cattle drive, or a story of a band of outlaws. It's not a romance either, or a comedy, although throughout the movie most of the characters (Jake in particular ;-P) will keep you laughing out loud for most of the duration of the movie. It's not a groundbreaking film-- it's just a wild good time.


   The opening scene of Silverado is pretty much without fanfare, which is different from most westerns-- the camera movies across the inside of an old shack, a man's boots, his rifle, and other belongings, with no music or anything. This is where we meet Emmett (Scott Glenn, who is awesome, in case you didn't know) who has spent the night in this little shack in the middle of the desert. All of a sudden, he's awakened by gunshots as a band of outlaws close in. He manages to escape and rides away, soon after which he finds a man lying asleep on the desert, stripped to his long johns. This, friends, is Paden, played by Kevin Kline.

   Kevin Kline is pretty cool. Prior to watching this, I'd only seen him in The Conspirator as secretary of war Edwin Stanton, who wasn't very nice, and he looks so different in this I wouldn't have recognized him if I hadn't known the actor. I really like Paden-- he's a good friend and a man of integrity, who values justice, his hat, his horse, and who likes a good saloon.

     The way the movie starts out, it's pretty obvious that this is somewhat of a comedy, or at least the story isn't completely serious. Emmett and Paden then go to an army outpost-- Paden still wearing nothing but his underwear-- where the action really starts happening, when Paden spots his horse and the man who stole it. He goes into the nearby general store and gets into an argument with the shopkeeper about borrowing a pistol, and ends up buying an old rusty pistol with all the money he has. As soon as he tries to use it, the cylinder falls out, he scrambles to load it and, just in time, shoots the man off his horse. Then an army officer asks him to prove that it's his horse, and Paden shows him that his name is etched on the underside of the saddle. The officer confirms Paden's claim and tells the crowd that has gathered to disperse, and then proceeds to tell Paden to "get some clothes."

  This, friends, is good stuff-- and it only gets better.

   Like I said, this movie is just a ton of fun. The dialogue is clever and classic western, the action is rip-roaring and exciting, and the entire movie just keeps you on the edge of your seat.

   The four main characters are Paden, Emmett, Malachi (Danny Glover) and Emmett's little brother Jake (Kevin Costner). All of them are really awesome, and all of them are played by great actors.

   This is the first movie I've seen Kevin Costner in when he's really young, and somewhat of a goof. Well, from the moment Jake appeared, climbing on the bars of a jail cell, telling his brother that "all I did was kiss the girl".....well, I couldn't help but love him. He seemed just like a little boy, playful and exuberant and not always very prudent-- a lovable, silly little brother to Scott Glenn's practical and tough Emmett.

    Here's Jake and Emmett's exchange when Emmett finds his younger brother in jail (all the while Jake is climbing on the ceiling of the cell like monkey bars):

   Jake: "All I did was kiss the girl!"
   Emmett: "They got you in jail for that?"
   Jake: "Yeah, I kissed a girl, and this other fella didn't like it, so we had some words, and so I decided to get out of there. So I did, I got out of there. You know, Emmett, I don't want no trouble. So I go outside, and this fella tries to shoot me in the back."
  Emmett: "You had to kill him?"
  Jake: "No, no, I winged him, and he dropped his gun."
  Emmett: "They got you in jail for winging a guy?"
  Jake: ", not exactly. Because, see, then his friend opened up on me."
  Emmett: "What friends is that?"
  Jake: "The one with the shotgun."
  Sheriff Langston: "The DEAD one."

   I loved the part after they broke Jake out of jail and he's practicing drawing his two guns. Paden's obvious annoyance-- it's just hilarious. :-) Let me also add that it's pretty cool watching a movie with an actor that I've seen in real life.

    Danny Glover was wonderful, as usual, and I really liked the character of Malachi (better known as 'Mal'). He was kind of a loner for most of the movie, and went about doing pretty much his own thing, but yet he was always right there whenever any of the others needed him.

Mal: "Now, I don't wanna kill you, and you don't wanna be dead."

    John Cleese as Sheriff Langston was hilarious-- just the fact that John Cleese, a British comedy giant, would be in a western at all was hilarious in itself. He wasn't in the picture much, but he had some really funny lines. His favorite word was 'jurisdiction', which he kept saying a lot. He seemed much more preoccupied with keeping up appearances on his own end than what happened to the rest of the town, and it didn't take him long to give up on going after the gang after they busted Jake from the jail.

 Deputy: "That them shootin'?"
 Sheriff Langston: "No, it's coming from those rocks."
 Deputy: "Well, let's go. He ain't hittin' nothing'."
 Sheriff Langston: "You idiot, he's hit everything he's aimed at!"
 Deputy: "Well, they ain't out of our jurisdiction till they reach the flattop."
 (Sheriff Langston's hat is shot off his head.)
 Sheriff Langston: "Today, my jurisdiction ends here. Pick up my hat."

  Brian Dennehy was really good at playing the corrupt Sheriff Cobb, an amusing but evil bad guy. Cobb and Paden used to ride together so they go back a long way, and when Paden arrives in the town if Silverado Cobb offers him a job in the saloon he owns. But Paden is increasingly bothered by Cobb's underhanded ways, and the tension builds until he has to do something about it.

    Stella is the little woman who runs the saloon Cobb owns in Silverado. She's a very interesting character, a tough little woman with lots of wit, and she and Paden become good friends as they work together.

   One of the only other femalse in the movie is Hannah (played by Rosanna Arquette), a woman who's travelling with her husband in a wagon train that the four friends meet up with along the way to Silverado. After her husband is killed, the four men, especially Emmett and Paden, feel somewhat obligated to look after her and see that she gets herself settled safely. She didn't say much, mostly just rode on her wagon looking pretty, and I was kind of disappointed that she didn't have a bigger role because I really like the character.

  One scene I particularly liked was when Hannah and Paden are walking along on her new homestead, surveying the land, and Paden tells her that she's a very pretty woman. Hannah says this:

  "I want to build something. Make things grow. That takes hard work-- a lifetime of it. That's not why a man comes to a pretty woman. After a while I won't be so pretty. But this land will be."

   Calvin Stanhope (Jeff Goldblum), better known as "Slick", was another really funny character, with his animal hide coat and his awkward manners. He happens to first arrive in Silverado at an inconvenient moment, when Cobb has just fired one of his employees and thrown him out into the street.

  Slick: "Excuse me, Sheriff, I'm a gambler who'd like to run an honest game in your town. To whom do I speak about that?
  (notices the dead man lying in the dirt)
  I hope it's not this man."

  It was really surprising when SPOILER he turned out to be a crook, because he had said he wanted to help Mal, and he seemed like just a harmless teddy bear (especially in that coat) END OF SPOILER

    While everyone else is doing more important things, Jake can't seem to stay out of trouble, and he gets into a disagreement after he kisses a girl who 'belongs' to one of Cobb's deputies. He calmly handles the situation by saying one of my favorite lines: "I don't believe a lady has to explain anything to a man this ugly." However, it's Paden who finally gets everyone cooled down and prevents a fight from happening.

   The costumes are really great in Silverado, and each one of the main characters has his own distinct outfit. Paden is a fancy man, a sharp dresser; Emmett's clothes are like him, practical and tough; Mal's outfit is just simple and serviceable; and Jake's ensemble is a wacky combination of cowboy trimmings that makes him look like an actor in a Wild West show.

  The music, composed by Bruce Broughton (whom I know and love from The Blue and the Gray), is lively and exciting and adds to the pure fun of the film. His style is definitely recognizable if you've heard TBATG soundtrack, and in some places it sounded JUST like some parts of that soundtrack. My sister and I kept looking at each other with that expression, "it sounds just like it!" :-)

  One thing that's different about Silverado from a lot of westerns I've seen is that it's not sad. Sure, there's gunfights, people get kidnapped, a house burns down, people die, but for the most part it's a lighthearted story. The ending isn't sad either-- it's one of those endings where the characters are finished with this place and are heading for somewhere else where they will supposedly have more adventures-- it's open-ended, I guess you might say. I must admit, I have a partiality to more deep, resolved, even tragic endings, but I loved the good-natured feel of this one.

   All in all, Silverado is a great western with lots of good actors and action and a great soundtrack. It's rated PG-13 for action and some language, but compared to most westerns like it there really wasn't that much, and it wasn't ridiculously frequent like in some movies. The action wasn't bloody at all, just intense, but there wasn't so much of it that it was ever boring at all. I enjoyed every minute of it and highly recommend it to all western fans. Even if you don't normally like westerns, you'll probably enjoy it-- it's just so much fun. :-)


  1. Yes, that must be SO cool - to watch a movie with an actor you've actually SEEN in real life. I can imagine the thrill. :)

    I sort of recognise that British actor... I can't remember from where, though.

  2. This is one of my top ten westerns. I love it so, so, so much! Isn't Stella an awesome and original character? I want to be her best friend.

    But Emmett is my favorite character. He's quiet and steady and loyal and... wow. Just wow.

    Paden is loads of fun too. Have you ever seen Kevin Kline's movie Dave? One of my family's favorite comedies! Has a small scene at the beginning we skip, but other than that, brilliant.

    And it's funny, but I saw this long before I ever watched any Monty Python, so seeing John Cleese in that made me go, "But, it's the sheriff from Silverado!" Hee.

    I'm really intrigued by your comment that Silverado is different from a lot of westerns you've seen because it's not sad. Westerns make me so happy, but I realized you're right, that a lot of them have a melancholy tone. Even if they don't have tragic endings, a lot of them do end with someone moving on because their work is done, or their work is not done, or they don't belong anymore, etc. Interesting.

  3. Hamlette: I was so pleased to discover that this is one of your favorites as well! :-)
    Yes, Stella is awesome. I love her, and I think her friendship with Paden is very unique and sweet. I love how she has this air of authority about her, despite her size-- in the scene where Emmett's sister's house burns down and she's shouting orders to everyone else, my mom said, "Is she the chief of the volunteer fire department, or something?"

    No, I've never heard of Dave. I've only seen two movies with Kevin Kline. My mom likes him-- I'll ask her if she's seen it.

    I've never seen Monty Python, but I've seen previews for Faulty Towers, which John Cleese is in, and for some reason I found it funny to see him as a sheriff in an old west town. ;-P

    Well, I don't know if most westerns are sad, but it seems most of the ones I've seen have a melancholy tone and tragic endings. I liked that this movie was so much fun. :-)


  4. Dave is very sweet :-) I hope you get to see it sometime! If you like comedies that involve a bit of a love story but that don't revolve entirely around the love story. I also love KK in French Kiss, but that's got a bit more of an "adult" feel going on. His Hamlet was interesting too, though I've only seen it once and didn't like it enough to buy it.

    Monty Python is weird. Very, very weird. And often off-color. And occasionally stunningly hilarious. I've never watched Fawlty Towers, though.


I'd love it if you'd drop me a line or two! I always enjoy receiving comments from readers and friends. I ask that you please keep your comments clean and God-honoring, and please don't write anything you wouldn't want your grandmother to read. Also, if you are commenting under anonymous, please do leave your name (or some sort of moniker so that you aren't totally nameless). Thank you so much and have a lovely day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...