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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Two For the Price Of One

Dead for a Dollar on IMDb

Plot Overview

teach and pupil

woman teacherNearing the turn of the twentieth century, in rebellion against family and society, “Helen of Troy” Rachel of Philadelphia (Rachel Brosnahan) made an ill-advised marriage to “a very bad man” Martin Kidd (Hamish Linklater) and moved with him to New Mexico to get away from her trouble­some roots. He wed her for her fortune and respect­ability. Affection soon died and to escape her horrific circumstance, the “decoration wife” occupied her­self by teaching school. She became “more than a teacher” to a disaf­fected “common black soldier” Pvt. Elijah Jones (Brandon Scott) and they eloped to Mexico (“I ran off with a man of color.”) Elijah's army buddy Sergeant Alonzo Poe (Warren Burke) is trusted by him to deliver from Kidd a ransom of $10,000 for her safe return, but they plan to use the money to get to Cuba instead. Her husband won't reward criminality but will pay $2,000 to bounty hunter Max Borlund (Christoph Waltz) to bring her back.

hobo signcard playersTheir situation becomes exacerbated (“muy complicada”) when their American host in Mexico, a wanted fugitive back in the states, Jack Hannon (Jackamoe Buzzell) doesn't want to “live like a bindle­stiff,” so he demands half the ransom in exchange for the room & board he's been providing them. He will him­self need to share half of that with the outlaw “king” in those parts Tiberio Vargas (Benjamin Bratt.) Vargas gives safe passage to Max and his mufti-attired partner Poe—the latter is there to bring in the army deserter—in promised exchange for half the gold these supposed prospectors will find. He won't take kindly to these “gringo scumbags” inter­fering with the putative ransom exchange. Mean­while Martin has serious issue with Elijah for abducting his wife and will confront him at gun­point in jail, and he will hire Vargas's vanqueros to rape and kill his way­ward wife. Joe “not Joseph” Cribbens (Willem Dafoe) a former captive of the bounty hunter, having just completed serving his time, is down in Mexico for “cards, tequila and señoritas.” He is expecting an eventual reckoning with Max who haplessly crosses his path. Cribbens is “dangerous,” but Max is the “best shot in the territory, rifle or pistol.” For that matter Poe is a “damn good shot, best eye in the regiment.” Even Mrs. Kidd having heard the West was violent practices with her derringer. The constabulary in Chihuahua tries to keep the peace, but there are a lot of hotheads about.


hand crank ice cream makerConflict arose between husband and wife & between soldier and army in the vein of, (Prov. 30:33) “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.” The idea in the proverb is that a state of peace and conciliation can erupt into to one of conflict just as a fluid (milk) can change to solid (butter) through continual agitation (churning.) Or hit a critical area (nose) and it bleeds. The movie illustrates the former by cock­roaches, “a g.d. nuisance,” swarming the dishes until Joe can't take it no more. He draws his six-shooter and blasts the plates to smithereens. It illustrates the latter by Mrs. Kidd getting her cheek grazed in a final shootout, it requiring stitches, but she demurs saying, “I'll wear my scar as a badge of honor.”

We have Pvt. Jones “all those years taking nothing but sh!t” until he can't stand it any more and deserts. And when Mr. Kidd tells the missus that tomorrow she's going to be taken by the low-life Mexicans he's hired and “used by them in the lowest possible way,” there being no place to hide, the little lady draws her derringer. Her husband says she won't shoot, but she says she's changed. The widow moves back to Philly to become a suffragette.

Production Values

” (2022) was directed by Walter Hill. It was written by Walter Hill and Matt Harris. It stars Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe and Rachel Brosnahan. Waltz carries the movie easily. Dafoe and Burke in turn are forces in their own right.

MPAA rated it R for violence, some sexual content/graphic nudity and language. The script shows promise but could have used some work. For instance there's potentially wonderful alliteration in the line, “fugitive from the law, army deserter, extortionist.” The r's just roll off the tongue, but a single act of extortion would rate him as a simple extortioner not an -ist. And if a “cavalry man” can be called by a cow's hide: “boots & saddle, slap leather, and ride,” it wouldn't hurt to use human skin as a descriptor, adding another r with nigger from its Latin root niger meaning black. In fact when the Bible lists some “prophets and teachers” (Acts 13:1), included is “Simeon that was called Niger” which sobriquet would have necessarily been respectful. Or perhaps the expected, historical word nigger was ditched when the early drafts were bowdlerized to accommo­date modern, Yankee political correctness.

The flashbacks were shot in B&W. The blurry thru-window shots helped soften scene transitions. The editing was acrobatic but it worked. It tried to evoke the ole spaghetti western in pace, music, and roughness. Expansive vistas helped define the setting. It was filmed on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Runtime is 1¾ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This was a good western with a knotty plot. A cameo by a couple nuns pegged the setting as Catholic Mexico where religion was pretty much hit and miss, here mostly a miss. Its unifying theme was a man doing his job as a bounty hunter, some­times bringing them in dead for a dollar. Within the confines of his occupation, how­ever, he showed mercy when he could.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.