- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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- Dashiell B.
The film which financially destroyed United Artist is a Western epic deserving of a second look. The fine ensemble includes Kristofferson as a U.S. marshal who uncovers a plot by Waterston to kill European settlers for their land. Based on the real-life Johnson County War, the era is perfectly recreated thanks to the breath-taking cinematography & Oscar-nominated production design. However, the film is almost always about the visuals over the story, but this is still an uncompromising film worth seeing. I give it a 4/5.
not nearly as bad as it could have been
- Sam Seiffer
It took me a long time to see this film because it was pulled from distribution within a day or so of release. The press at the time were savage and unfair. This movie is not nearly as bad as it was reputed to be. Although based on a real incident and real charcterss it is not historically accurate. It is very atmospheric. There are some pretty good performances including Isabela Hupert who was very good even in the scenes where she had her clothes on. This is no academy award winner but it is an interesting film. My only really negative view is that the epilogue at the end of the film is incomprehensible and should have been left on the cutting room floor. It is definitely worth a look and those seeing it today without the prejudice of the news reports at the time will be surprised at how good a film it really is. Sadly it destroyed the director's career and probably damaged Kris Kristofferson's as well. This movie has all the ingredients of greatness but whoever was really in charge just could not bring it all together. Again do watch it you will not regret it.
- Bruce C
Film is a prime example of the phrase "missing the picture." It narrates a factual era of American history concerning western expansion (Johnson County War) and an often cruel reality of the daily way of life. Ignore the pessimistic remarks about it not being well received in 1981. It wasn't. A decade of difficulty due to the political landscape at that time played a huge role in aiding that. Like many good films (Fiddler on the Roof, Lawrence of Arabia, Reds) marking events, its long running. United Artist was already in trouble when this film began, blames the film production and box office failure for its undoing. It has a big cast. Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, Isabelle Huppert, Willem Dafoe, Sam Watterson, John Hurt and Geoffrey Lewis - make sure this a worthwhile movie. Don't judge a book book by its cover - don't judge a film by its earnings. Its quite worthy.
- Dalton in Hawaii
here is a fine example, of how important release dates are to the success of the film. Heaven's Gate, didn't enjoy much success when it was first released. That shows you how little the film was appreciated. This film has wonderful production quality, fine acting and a decent script. I would have backed it too, the audience in 1981 just didn't appreciate the film. After seeing the directors cut, I was impressed with the set decoration and the overall production value. This film is a real jem. Joseph Cotton is still in his prime here. Younger actors also bring something to the picture. This is a good film and worth seeing. Aloha.