Wild Bill
Entertainment: +1 1/2
Acceptability: -2 1/2

James Butler Hickok, better known as Wild Bill Hickok (Jeff Bridges), became famous as a member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. But that was the tame part of his life. Wild Bill died in Deadwood, a city in the Dakota territory, in 1876. He was shot from behind by the son of one of the women he had had an affair with some years earlier. So ends a sordid tale of Wild West justice, during which Wild Bill kept ruthless order as a sheriff in several towns out West, killing some 20 people along the way. In this film, Wild Bill's later life, leading up to his death in Deadwood, is recounted by a friend from England, Charley Prince (John Hurt). Through Prince's eyes, we see Bill Hickok as a hero who succumbed to heavy drinking, gambling and opium use. With his eyesight failing due to glaucoma, Bill must rely on his quick wits to get him out of increasingly sticky situations. His no-nonsense approach to life also includes his relationship to Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin). She wants to rekindle a romantic relationship, but Bill is not easily persuaded to become involved. Even a good movie could not have redeemed this image of Wild Bill, and this movie is far from good. The poor directing, script and thin plot leave nothing to spend your movie money on.

To make up for the poor entertainment value of WILD BILL, the producers decided to add lots of violence and abusive language. Wild Bill shoots and kills at least ten people during the film. Some challenge him to a gunfight, others just get caught on the wrong side of a mean-tempered man and his gun. One fairly violent bar-fight is also shown in which Bill ends up, after beating up two or three of the men, shooting all three of them. Bill uses opium twice and is constantly drinking whiskey with his companions. Calamity Jane literally throws herself at Wild Bill, but Bill pushes her away until one day they begin having sex on the bar of a saloon. They are interrupted by the thugs who eventually kill Bill. Obscured, female rear nudity is briefly seen and many crudities are scattered like buckshot throughout the dialogue. The film seems to say that to be a hero is to be violent, uncaring and crass. This is a film that needs a lynch mob instead of an audience. Neither Wild Bill, the person, nor WILD BILL, the film, seems worth a plug nickel.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Distributor: MGM/UA, 2500 Broadway St., Santa Monica, CA 90404-3061

Crude Language: Many (44) times - Mild 27, moderate 17
Obscene Language: Several (6) times - S-word 3, other 3
Profanity: Several times - Regular 5 (GD), exclamatory 2
Violence: Many times - Moderate (at least 10 people shot and killed, several fights with punching and kicking)
Sexual Intercourse: Once (no nudity)
Nudity: Once (brief, partially obscured female rear)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Few times (suggestive looks, reference to male genitals, woman throws herself at man)
Drug Abuse: Constant alcohol drinking, opium use twice
Other: Religious preacher shown as very theatrical and overly emotional
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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