Clint Eastwood (William Munny), Gene
Hackman ("Little Bill" Daggett), Morgan Freeman (Ned Logan), Richard Harris(English Bob), Jaimz Woolvett (The Schofield Kid), Saul Rubinek (W. W.
Beauchamp), Frances Fisher (Strawberry Alice), Anna Thomson (Delilah Fitzgerald)
It was a brave decision for Clint Eastwood to film this
largely anti-violent western, particularly at a time when the genre was considered dormant,
Eastwood also plays the lead, William Munny, a former
gunslinger turned pig-farmer who is approached by a young would-be gunfighter wanting to recruit him for a vengeance killing. The reward is offered by a group of prostitutes in the small town
Big Whiskey, where the stern but reasonably pacifistic sheriff is reluctant to do any more than offer horses as condolence when a young prostitute has her looks disfigured by a drunk
Munny himself is also reluctant to take on the job, but
with his children starving and his farm failing, has little choice, and so enlists the help of his former partner as they go on a manhunt for the guilty cowboy and his posse.
Though the story is mostly a sermon on the virtues of
mercy, when the violence does come, it delivers in spades, particularly in its Mexican standoff climax.
The film was hugely successful, both critically and
financially, as it shrugged off the clichés of the old style Western to take the genre in a brand new direction, stripping away the usual conventions seen in films past to show a harsher
reality in polar opposite to some of the westerns from the genre's golden age (pre-1970).
It also won Best Picture at the Oscars, a double for Clint
Eastwood as he also landed the Best Director award, as well as gongs for Gene Hackman (Best Supporting Actor) and Best Film Editing.
You probably do have to be a fan of the western genre to
truly appreciate it, but even still, it's a spectacular viewing experience which will stay with you after the end credits roll.