The Quick and the Dead (or is your Spidey sense tingling about that Aussie guy…Russell Who?)

When Sam Raimi was chosen to direct The Quick and the Dead, he was best known for the cult classic horror series The Evil Dead, its’ sequel The Evil Dead II, and The Evil Dead III, renamed Army of Darkness. There was also the critically acclaimed super-hero movie Darkman starring Liam Neeson. (You thought I was going to say that other super-hero movie, didn’t you?) Anyway, you don’t necessarily think of a homage to the Clint Eastwood-type Spaghetti Western when your director has a resume like that, but hey, directors enjoy stretching themselves and trying out new things. Besides, it’ll still be a few years before a little something called Spiderman swings along (sorry – couldn’t resist) to make Tobey Maguire a star. And even more time will pass before Raimi sends James Franco off on a fantastical ride to Oz to become the Wizard.

Let’s return to the early Nineties.  

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sony was nervous about Leonardo DiCaprio, despite his Gilbert Grape Oscar nod. Before that, Leo was a kid actor in the waning years of the TV series Growing Pains and he had yet to star in what would become one of the biggest box office hits of all time (you know, the one with the sinking ship).  So if DiCaprio gave the Sony execs ulcers, their star, Ms. Stone, upset them even more when she told them she also wanted an actor pretty much known only in Australia: some guy named Russell Crowe.

Russell Crowe originally auditioned for a different role in the film before Sharon Stone asked that the actor try for the lead male role. “When I saw Romper Stomper (1992), I thought Russell was not only charismatic, attractive and talented but also fearless,” Stone reasoned. “And I find fearlessness very attractive. I was convinced I wouldn’t scare him.” Raimi found Crowe to be “bold and challenging. He reminds me of what we imagine the American cowboy to have been like.” On working with Raimi, Crowe later described the director as “sort of like the fourth Stooge.”

There were numerous rewrites, but when the original script was declared ‘good’ by the studio, one writer called it “a completely fucking pointless exercise.” Instead of filming in Spain or Italy as originally planned, the production was shifted to Mexico, and finally – in order to secure the talents of Gene Hackman – to Arizona. In the late fall of 1993, filming was delayed about a month as Mr. Crowe had another project in Australia, but once it started, the main photography was completed before the end of February 1993, a little over three months later. 

A notorious ‘love’ scene was cut from the American release as Stone (who also served as a co-producer) did not feel it fit the overall mood of the movie. This scene was later restored for home video release. 

About two years after filming was completed, the movie was released and became a complete failure at the box office. Raimi blamed himself. “I was very confused after I made that movie. For a number of years I thought, I’m like a dinosaur. I couldn’t change with the material.

Raimi needn’t have beaten himself up too much.

When the DVD was released in September of 1998, Leonardo had a slew of fans thanks to ‘that boat movie’. And when those young girls who fell in love with “Jack” rented it, maybe, just maybe their parents or older siblings or older relatives caught a few scenes, suddenly realizing the character named Cort bore a resemblance to Officer Bud White of L.A. Confidential, the competition to ‘that boat movie.’  

The rest as they say is history.


The ‘Give Me Another Bullet’ Scene


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