In 1992, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in Unforgiven, a film based on a David Webb Peoples screenplay written in the 1970s. Eastwood acquired the rights to it sometime in the years between and held onto it, waiting until he could age into the role a reformed badman who picks up his guns to collect the bounty on two men involved in the disfigurement of a prostitute. Eastwood declared it would be his last Western. He’s kept that promise, and it’s hard to imagine a final excursion into the genre better than this one, which balances a morality play about the nature of justice against fully realized performances from Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Frances Fisher, Richard Harris, and others. The screenplay’s an exercise in moral ambiguity, and Eastwood, working with cinematographer Jack Green, shoots it with shadow-drenched classicism—and it builds to a climax that’s at once satisfying and unsettling, for reasons queasily tied up with one another.
The week begins with my Keynote on Tuesday, followed by a robust Forum discussion on Wednesday. On Thursday, Noel Murray weighs in with a piece on how Unforgiven arrived at a time, still ongoing, when Westerns stopped having distinct eras. If you’ve seen it, watch it again and then discuss it with us, because there’s a lot to talk about. If not, see it for the first time (and consider me jealous). Here's the 1992 trailer that helped pack theaters:
November 25th: Animal House
After that: Movie Of The Week hibernates for the month of December before returning on January 7 with the Coens' snow-covered thriller Fargo.