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In 1992, Clint Eastwood directed and starred In his last western, creating a powerful twist on the man with no name with his aging gunslinger Will Munny in UNFORGIVEN.

Taking dark notes on classic western themes, but bending them into much more reflective territory, we meet Munny as a quiet, rather clumsy widower. He is barely scraping by, with a young son and daughter and a ramshackle pig farm in the middle of nowhere.

When Munny learns of a large bounty on two young men who attacked and cut up a prostitute in Wyoming’s Big Whiskey, Munny sets off on one last job for its big payday. There’s no glory or thrill in the quest, it’s simply a way to take care of his family after the death of his young wife.

He rides to meet old friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and brash young gunfighter The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) and head out after the bounty on the two men responsible.

Big Whiskey is run with an iron fist by Sheriff “Little Bill” Daggett (Gene Hackman in his Oscar winning role) with no mercy and violence. He wants no part of the men coming to kill the perpetrators.

Richard Harris (Camelot) is excellent as English Bob, a bounty hunter from across the pond who arrives in Big Whiskey before Munny, Francis Fisher (Titanic) is Strawberry Alice, the protective madam whose raised the bounty and Saul Rubinek (True Romance) is a newspaper man spinning violent men’s tales into legend in the old west.

Eastwood deserved his Best Director Oscar, turning his Josey Wales era Western Heroes on their heads with his broken, desperate and flawed Munny. Watching Eastwood, Freeman, Harris and Eastwood together is a thrill for any film buff.

There are no black hats and white hats in sight. Good and evil is a sliding scale in Big Whiskey. Production Designer Henry Bumstead (Vertigo, Mystic River) designed the town with an eye for authenticity and it feels dangerous around every corner. David Webb People’s Oscar winning script is flawless, deconstructing the myths of the old west and dispelling any false glory in the act of killing.

Munny’s campfire scene ending with “It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have. We all got it coming, kid.” is some of the best acting of Eastwood’s career.

The final showdown in Big Whiskey is tense, violent and brutal. When you compare this showdown in the town with the similar ending of “Silverado” Lawrence Kasdan’s fantastic traditional western from 1985, the difference is stark. Silverado explodes with rousing music, bullets blazing and fast moving stunt work that’s as crowd pleasing as it is thrilling. Unforgiven features a rainy, nighttime shootout in dark rooms, with guns misfiring and Munny falling back on his long dormant instincts. It’s no less thrilling, but the aftermath feels bloody, dirty and painful.

Eastwood’s final scenes of the film are quiet, methodical and terrific. The Best Picture of 1992, it was Clint’s first Oscar triumph of many to follow and a huge box office hit. One of his best films, UNFORGIVEN remains an adult meditation on western mythos loaded with great acting and powerful drama. It gets an A+.

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