It's a SPOOF!

One thing that seems to have been missed by many is the basic concept of The Quick and the Dead. It's a spoof of spaghetti westerns. When the film came out, critics and reviewers seemed to universally miss this point, took it as a serious movie, and, as such, panned it. Only a few people I've encountered got it immediately, especially aficionados of the spaghetti western genre.

Although I'm not an expert at the genre, there are several clues that this movie is a spoof of spaghetti westerns:

  • Sharon Stone's character's name. It's never really established in the movie and is only mentioned once, very briefly, in her gunfight against Cort. Cort called her Ellen in that scene (did it get past you?). Otherwise, it's never mentioned. This is very reminiscent of those spaghetti westerns featuring a mysterious, nameless "stranger".

  • In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly there's a scene where Eli Wallach has Clint Eastwood standing on a chair with a noose around his neck, as Eli Wallach prepares to shoot the legs of the chair. The jacket I wore in this movie bears a striking resemblance to one worn by Eli Wallach in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Compare these two photos:

    Eli Wallach in
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Me on the set of
    The Quick and the Dead

  • The general look and feel of the movie, the town, the people, the dust...down to the cigars issued by the props dept.

  • The music.

  • I seem to remember hearing on set, during filming, that the intent of the movie was to spoof spaghetti westerns. After many years my memory is a little fuzzy, so I can't recall exactly who told me that or when, but I do remember knowing it at the time.
It's been said that The Quick and the Dead is a tribute to spaghetti westerns. This is true, but it's also a spoof of them at the same time. The "spoof" part is in the exaggerations. Gunfights are exaggerated by having one every hour on the hour. The "cartoony" stuff like see-through bullet holes seem like obvious spoofs. Then there are the long shadows, the stunts (like Ace Hanlon's shoot exhibition), the group of people (myself included) turning their heads during a gunfight like they're watching a tennis match, Spotted Horse refusing to die, etc., etc.

Here's what some visitors to this web site have sent in:

The series of dynamite explosions Ellen arranges for near the end of the movie are essentially a duplicate of the dynamite explosions by Clint Eastwood at the end of "A Fistful of Dollars" (after which he kills Ramon) Check it out.

Anthony S.

The color is the first thing I think of: almost entirely sepia (except for Ellen's flashbacks) and shades of brown, rust and tan; even the gown she wears to dinner w/Herod is brown! (MAN, was she gorgeous in that!). There's the music obviously, so much like "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" and other Sergio Leone flicks! And the whip-crack! And the whistling. Classic...a lot like the theme "Rawhide" COULD anyone take that seriously?! But it was perfect, too.

Other things: The streets, lined with the obligatory, downtrodden, fearful citizens, the Old Doctor, who can declare someone dead from 50 ft away! Heh. The spectacular sunsets, especially the one when Ellen throws open the barn doors before riding off into it, with The Kid calling after her: "I don't think you heard me...I said I LIKED you!". So cute!

There are the obligatory thugs w/long coats and shotguns (showing how cowardly Herod ACTUALLY is!)...reminiscent of the look of Wyatt Earp's posse in "Tombstone" (but in that, they're the GOOD guys!). We have the hooker w/the heart of gold, who still loves The Kid, despite his infatuation w/The Lady.

There are the many gun-spinning, twirling feats and the rapid-fire, two-hand shots (such as Ellen's rescue of Cort) and her dispatch of the slimy child-rapist as he survives her first attempt to kill him (that seemed rather new, to me, but it fit, since she's female). As mentioned, we have the classic, extreme close-up shots of people's eyes, but they're not just spoofs, they actually work dramatically: Ellen's startled, worried, Herold's evil, gleeful, Cort's tortured and The Kid's: brash, yet yearning.

What I liked MOST about this film, after the joyful, playful spoofing, were the NEW touches: the introduction of a FEMALE as the stranger bent on revenge (beautiful!), her bonding with The Kid and the barkeep's daughter, the huge house of Herod, looming bleakly over the town, the LACK of music or jollity in the saloon: people go there to drink and enter gunfights, not for fun!

The explosion trick at the end was cool, but overdone, I thought...really my ONLY complaint w/the film! I mean, sure, "The law's come back to town", Ellen says, after flinging the marshal's badge to Cort, (nice "pinging" sound!)...but where, exactly is everyone going to LIVE? 3/4 of the town is gone! And couldn't help but wonder how many townsfolk got blown up. Were they forewarned? The didn't seem to be.

Susan T.

If any spaghetti western fans can add to this, please Send an E-mail so I can include your comments here.

The title of the movie is from the Bible:

2 Timothy 4:1

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;"

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