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Random thoughts about sound and vision.

Back In The Saddle

I first saw Silverado some thirty years ago - early '86, probably. I rented it on VHS cassette and watched it in all its mono sound, pan-and-scan glory.

I thought it wasn't very good, that it had been highly overrated. The tape was returned to the rental library and the film promptly forgotten.

Then this week , in an article over on Hollywood Elsewhere, I saw a clip of Kevin Costner in Silverado. This was a revelation. I couldn't remember Costner being in the film - hell, I could barely remember the film at all. So this weekend I rented and watched it again.


You probably know this already, but Silverado is fantastic.

It's Lawrence Kasdan's homage to those great Howard Hawks western classics - Rio Bravo, Red River, El Dorado. There's an amazing cast - Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Brian Dennehy, Jeff Goldblum, Linda Hunt. John Cleese is quietly menacing in an unusually straight role for him. Kevin Costner is like you've never seen him before (or since) - wearing an ear-to-ear grin in every scene and clearly enjoying himself hugely. There's glorious widescreen photography. A bracing score by Bruce Broughton. And strong direction by Kasdan of his own screenplay.

How wrong I was.

I can't think why I dismissed it so out of hand back in the mid Eighties. I liked westerns well enough back then, so the genre wasn't the problem. I certainly admired Kasdan for co-writing The Empire Strikes Back and I had liked both his first two films as a director, Body Heat and The Big Chill

It's only been a few times when I've radically revised my opinion on a film. I remember not caring much at all for The Royal Tenenbaums after seeing it at a press screening. A fortnight later, my wife was keen to see it, so I grudgingly took her. On the second viewing, I loved it. Two weeks and I'd turned 180 degrees round in my opinion.

Lesson learned. So now I'm going to have to watch all over again those film classics that I've never understood the acclaim for. Platoon. Vertigo. Million Dollar Baby. Even Lawrence Kasdan's own Grand Canyon.

On second thoughts...I think I was right about that one the first time around.