Unforgiven (1992)

R | 130 mins | Western | 7 August 1992

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Producer:

Clint Eastwood

Cinematographer:

Jack N. Green

Editor:

Joel Cox

Production Designer:

Henry Bumstead

Production Company:

The Malpaso Company
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HISTORY

David Webb People’s script was originally titled The Cut-Whore Killings, and later, The William Munny Killings, as noted in the 11 Aug 1991 LAT. The script was written in 1976 at a time when, according to the screenwriter, the Western genre was not popular. In the early 1980s, director Francis Ford Coppola optioned the script, but was unable to elicit interest in the project, and the option lapsed. Filmmaker Clint Eastwood optioned the screenplay next. The project remained in development for several years before going into production.
       Principal photography began on 26 Aug 1991 in Alberta, Canada, as stated in various contemporary sources including the 27 Aug 1991 HR. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that the eleven-week shooting schedule included nine weeks in Alberta. The town of Big Whiskey was designed and constructed in two months in the village of Longview. Other Alberta locations included Brooks, where “William Munny’s” farm was built; and Drumheller, the site of “Ned Logan’s” farm. The final two weeks of principal photography took place in Sonora, CA, chosen for its operational 19th-century narrow-gauge train, which was used for filming. According to a 5 Nov 1991 HR item, production was set to end around 14 Nov 1991.
       A 12 Aug 1992 LAT article stated that a “sneak” trailer was shown to exhibitors at the ShoWest convention in Feb 1992. The first “one-sheet” posters went up shortly after, on 1 Apr 1992, featuring Clint Eastwood in a “duster” coat, holding a gun behind his back, according to the 6 Aug 1992 HR. While the promotional campaign was mostly ... More Less

David Webb People’s script was originally titled The Cut-Whore Killings, and later, The William Munny Killings, as noted in the 11 Aug 1991 LAT. The script was written in 1976 at a time when, according to the screenwriter, the Western genre was not popular. In the early 1980s, director Francis Ford Coppola optioned the script, but was unable to elicit interest in the project, and the option lapsed. Filmmaker Clint Eastwood optioned the screenplay next. The project remained in development for several years before going into production.
       Principal photography began on 26 Aug 1991 in Alberta, Canada, as stated in various contemporary sources including the 27 Aug 1991 HR. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that the eleven-week shooting schedule included nine weeks in Alberta. The town of Big Whiskey was designed and constructed in two months in the village of Longview. Other Alberta locations included Brooks, where “William Munny’s” farm was built; and Drumheller, the site of “Ned Logan’s” farm. The final two weeks of principal photography took place in Sonora, CA, chosen for its operational 19th-century narrow-gauge train, which was used for filming. According to a 5 Nov 1991 HR item, production was set to end around 14 Nov 1991.
       A 12 Aug 1992 LAT article stated that a “sneak” trailer was shown to exhibitors at the ShoWest convention in Feb 1992. The first “one-sheet” posters went up shortly after, on 1 Apr 1992, featuring Clint Eastwood in a “duster” coat, holding a gun behind his back, according to the 6 Aug 1992 HR. While the promotional campaign was mostly aimed at males, a television advertisement specifically targeting women featured “a more literal telling of the story and…more of the conflict between the characters.” Theatrical trailers were shown before screenings of Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns, Patriot Games, and Universal Soldier (1992, see entries). A promotional tie-in sponsored by General Cinema Theatres offered the chance to win a Great Cowboy Weekend getaway in Oklahoma City, OK, and AMC Theatres gave out cash prizes. The week of the film’s 7 Aug 1992 release on over 2,000 screens, Clint Eastwood hosted a “Great Westerns Week” that was broadcast on seventy independent television stations across the U.S.
       Unforgiven was an overwhelming success, both critically and commercially. In its opening weekend, the film grossed an impressive $15 million, as noted in the 12 Aug 1992 HR, which credited Warner Bros.’ “knockout” promotional campaign with building high awareness among moviegoers. A 17 Jun 1993 HR “Hollywood Report” column announced that, after forty-six weeks in release, Unforgiven would surpass $100 million in box-office receipts that weekend. Warner Bros. distribution president Barry Reardon credited the film with setting “a whole new plateau for Westerns” and bringing back the Western genre as “commercially viable,” although Dances with Wolves (1990, see entry) arguably did the same thing two years earlier. A 12 Aug 1992 LAT item stated the cast, which featured four lead actors ranging in age from 55 to 62 years old, defied “contemporary wisdom” that an older cast could not draw big crowds. Furthermore, the film represented a comeback for Clint Eastwood, whose previous three pictures, White Hunter, Black Heart (1990, see entry), The Rookie (1990, see entry), and Pink Cadillac (1989, see entry), were considered box-office disappointments. The 11 Aug 1991 LAT noted that Eastwood’s most recent Western, 1985’s Pale Rider (see entry), had been a “modest hit.”
       Unforgiven was ranked 68th on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, up from the 98th position it held on AFI's 1997 list. The film was also ranked fourth on AFI's 2008 Top Ten Westerns list. It won numerous awards, including Academy Awards for Directing, Film Editing, Actor in a Supporting Role (Gene Hackman), and Best Picture; it was also nominated for the following Academy Awards: Actor in a Leading Role (Clint Eastwood), Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound, and Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen). Clint Eastwood won the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, and the picture was named one of the top ten films of the year by the National Board of Review. In 2004, it was inducted into the National Film Registry.
       The film ends with the following lines: “She was a comely young woman and not without prospects. Therefore it was heartbreaking to her mother that she would enter into marriage with William Munny, a known thief and murderer, a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition. When she died, it was not at his hands as her mother might have expected, but of smallpox. That was 1878. Some years later, Mrs. Ansonia Feathers made the arduous journey to Hodgeman County to visit the last resting place of her only daughter. William Munny had long since disappeared with the children...some said to San Francisco where it was rumored he prospered in dry goods. And there was nothing on the marker to explain to Mrs. Feathers why her only daughter had married a known thief and murderer, a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition.”
       End credits include the statement: “The producers gratefully acknowledge the invaluable help and cooperation of Bill Marsden, Film Commissioner of Alberta, Murray Ord, IATSE 312 and the citizens of Brooks, Drumheller, High River and Longview, Alberta for their support and friendship during the production of this film.” End credits conclude with: “Dedicated to Sergio and Don.” As noted in the 31 Jul 1992 DV review, the dedication refers to film directors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, Eastwood’s mentors and former collaborators. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1992
p. 2, 23.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 1992
p. 7, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1992
p. 1, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1993
p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 1992
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
12 Aug 1992
Section F, p. 1, 5.
New York Times
7 Aug 1992
Section III, p. 1.
Variety
3 Aug 1992
p. 38.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A Malpaso Production
Distributed by Warner Bros.
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Prod mgr, Sonora unit
Unit mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, Sonora unit
3d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
'A' cam op
'B' cam op
1st asst 'A' cam
1st asst 'B' cam
2d asst 'A' cam
2d asst 'B' cam
2d asst cam, Sonora unit
Loader, Sonora unit
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech, Sonora unit
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip, Sonora unit
Dolly grip
Dolly grip, Sonora unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master, Sonora unit
Const coord
Const coord, Sonora unit
Const foreman
Standby painter
Head painter
Head painter
COSTUMES
Ward dept head
Men's ward supv
Women's ward supv
Set costumer, Sonora unit
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus ed
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Supv dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
ADR supv
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd mixer
Sd mixer, Sonora unit
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Titles and opticals by
Spec eff best boy, Sonora unit
MAKEUP
Head make-up artist
Asst make-up artist
Head hair stylist
Hair stylist, Sonora unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Canadian casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Scr supv
Tech consultant
Prod coord
Prod coord, Sonora unit
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Prod auditor
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst to Clint Eastwood
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Head wrangler
Wrangler boss
Wrangler boss
Wrangler boss
Unit pub
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Craft service/First aid
First aid, Sonora unit
Craft service, Sonora unit
Caterer, Sonora unit
Knives des by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The William Munny Killings
The Cut-Whore Killings
Release Date:
7 August 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 7 August 1992
Production Date:
26 August--mid November 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros., Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 October 1992
Copyright Number:
PA588504
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Col by Technicolor®
gauge
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
130
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31757
SYNOPSIS

In 1880, at Greely’s whorehouse in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, a drunken cowboy named “Quick Mike” orders his friend, Davey Bunting, to hold down prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald while he slashes her face in retaliation for laughing at his small penis. Greely’s proprietor “Skinny” Dubois stops Mike at gunpoint. Complaining that Delilah is now “damaged property,” Skinny tells the sheriff, “Little Bill” Daggett, that he wants compensation for lost revenue. Seasoned prostitute “Strawberry Alice” argues that Mike and Davey should be hanged, but Little Bill forgoes hanging or whipping. Instead, he orders them to repay Skinny seven ponies. Scheming revenge, Strawberry Alice rallies the prostitutes to pool their savings. Sometime later, on his small farm in Kansas, widower William Munny enlists the help of his children, Will and Penny, in corraling sick pigs. A cocksure young man calling himself the “Schofield Kid,” after his Schofield revolver, arrives in search of the “cold-blooded assassin,” William Munny, he heard about from his Uncle Pete. The Kid wants to team with Munny to collect a $1,000 reward on the heads of Quick Mike and Davey. Munny claims he is no longer a killer since his late wife, Claudia Feathers, cured him of his drinking problem and showed him the error of his ways. The Kid is riding due west to the Western Trail in case Munny changes his mind. Returning to work on his ailing farm, Munny has a change of heart. He tells his son, Will, to take care of the younger Penny, and promises to be back in two weeks. He has a hard time mounting his horse, not having ridden in some time, and explains to the children that the recalcitrant ... +


In 1880, at Greely’s whorehouse in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, a drunken cowboy named “Quick Mike” orders his friend, Davey Bunting, to hold down prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald while he slashes her face in retaliation for laughing at his small penis. Greely’s proprietor “Skinny” Dubois stops Mike at gunpoint. Complaining that Delilah is now “damaged property,” Skinny tells the sheriff, “Little Bill” Daggett, that he wants compensation for lost revenue. Seasoned prostitute “Strawberry Alice” argues that Mike and Davey should be hanged, but Little Bill forgoes hanging or whipping. Instead, he orders them to repay Skinny seven ponies. Scheming revenge, Strawberry Alice rallies the prostitutes to pool their savings. Sometime later, on his small farm in Kansas, widower William Munny enlists the help of his children, Will and Penny, in corraling sick pigs. A cocksure young man calling himself the “Schofield Kid,” after his Schofield revolver, arrives in search of the “cold-blooded assassin,” William Munny, he heard about from his Uncle Pete. The Kid wants to team with Munny to collect a $1,000 reward on the heads of Quick Mike and Davey. Munny claims he is no longer a killer since his late wife, Claudia Feathers, cured him of his drinking problem and showed him the error of his ways. The Kid is riding due west to the Western Trail in case Munny changes his mind. Returning to work on his ailing farm, Munny has a change of heart. He tells his son, Will, to take care of the younger Penny, and promises to be back in two weeks. He has a hard time mounting his horse, not having ridden in some time, and explains to the children that the recalcitrant horse and sick pigs are his comeuppance for past sins. On his way to meet the Kid, Munny stops by the home of his old partner, Ned Logan, and offers to split the reward three ways if Ned wants to join in. Although Ned has also changed his ways, and his Native American wife Sally Two Trees does not approve, he is lured by the money. Meanwhile, hoping to collect the $1,000 reward, British assassin “English Bob” arrives in Big Whiskey, accompanied by his biographer, W. W. Beauchamp. Getting word that his old rival English Bob is in town, Little Bill seeks him out and demands he relinquish his weapons. English Bob tries to conceal his .32 pistol, but Little Bill finds it and brutally beats him, shouting that there is no “whore’s gold” to be won. Little Bill takes English Bob to jail, where the sheriff regales W. W. Beauchamp, the biographer, with his own gun-fighting stories. When Munny and Ned Logan catch up with the Kid, they quickly realize the boy is shortsighted, and can only see within fifty yards. That night, Munny and Ned complain of their discomfort when they make camp. The Kid boasts that he has killed five people, and asks Munny about a notorious shootout in Jackson County, in which he was rumored to have killed two deputies who had him cornered at close range. Munny, however, claims to not recollect the incident. A rainstorm hits, and the three mount their horses and ride on. Munny refuses Ned’s offer of liquor to stay warm. The next day, as they enter Big Whiskey, they see a bruised English Bob being driven out of town in a carriage. At the jail, Little Bill gets word that three men have come into town, and at least two of them are armed. He goes to Greely’s whorehouse and finds Munny, soaked through and feverish, in the saloon. While the Kid and Ned are upstairs receiving an “advance” on their reward, Little Bill demands Munny’s firearm and beats him when he lies about having one. Munny is kicked out in the rain, just as the prostitutes push the Kid and Ned out an upstairs window. The three take cover in a shack, where Ned stitches a gash in Munny’s face. The next day, the prostitutes bring supplies. Still suffering a high fever, Munny believes he is dying and begs Ned not to tell his children about his checkered past. When his fever finally breaks, he wakes up to find Delilah Fitzgerald tending to him. He sees the scars on her face and remarks that he must look like her now, but assures her he does not think she is ugly. Delilah offers him sex, informing him that Ned and the Kid have been sleeping with the women in advance of their reward, but Munny cannot be unfaithful to his wife. Unaware that he is a widower, Delilah commends his loyalty. Munny joins Ned Logan and the Kid as they set out to find Quick Mike and Davey Bunting. They locate Davey with a group of cowboys branding a calf. Ned shoots Davey’s horse, and the horse pins him. Ned aims at Davey but cannot bring himself to shoot. Munny takes over and, with only one bullet left, shoots Davey in the gut. Afterward, Ned announces he is going home. Munny discourages him from quitting, but promises to share the reward with him regardless. A group of local cowboys catch Ned on his way back to Kansas and bring him to Little Bill, who brutally whips him and demands the names of his accomplices. Munny and the Kid stake out the Bar T ranch where Quick Mike is in hiding. Finally, Quick Mike has to use the outhouse, giving the Kid an opportunity to ambush him. He shoots Mike in the chest three times, and a group of Bar T ranchers shoot at Munny and the Kid as they flee. At a designated meeting spot, the assassins wait for their reward. Shaken, the Kid swigs alcohol and admits he never killed before. When he starts to cry, Munny empathizes, saying, “It’s a hell of a thing killing a man.” Teenage prostitute “Young Sue” delivers the reward money and reports that Ned died while Little Bill was torturing and interrogating him. Learning that Ned’s body is on display outside Greely’s, Munny becomes enraged. He demands the Kid’s Schofield revolver, and the Kid willingly hands it over, vowing never to kill again. Munny entrusts the Kid to deliver his portion of the reward money to his children, and to deliver Ned’s portion to his wife, Sally Two Trees, if Munny does not return within a week. At Greely’s, Munny interrupts Little Bill as he organizes a search party. Wielding a rifle, Munny demands to speak to the owner. Skinny Dubois identifies himself, and Munny shoots him point blank. Next, he aims at Little Bill, who chuckles when the rifle misfires. As the sheriff draws his gun, Munny tosses the rifle and draws the Schofield. He shoots Little Bill and three more men, then warns the rest to flee unless they want to die. Munny pours himself a drink. Riveted by what he just witnessed, W. W. Beauchamp asks Munny about his strategy. Munny claims he has always been “lucky in killing folks,” then threatens Beauchamp to leave him alone. Little Bill stirs, and tries to draw his gun, but Munny shoots him point blank. As he walks out of Greely’s, Munny threatens anyone who tries to shoot. One man points his gun but is too cowardly to pull the trigger. Munny mounts his horse and shouts that the people of Big Whiskey better give Ned Logan a proper burial and stop mistreating prostitutes, or he will come back to kill everyone. Some years later, Claudia Feathers’s mother, who never approved of her son-in-law, visits her daughter’s grave in Kansas, but Munny is long gone. It is rumored he went to San Francisco, California, where he prospered in dry goods. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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