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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

One Last Hurrah

Unforgiven (1992) on IMDb

Plot Overview

It is 1880 in the town of Big Whiskey, Wyoming. The times are changing and the wild west is beginning to fade. A couple hard­working cow­boys Quick Mike (David Mucci) & Davey Boy (Rob Campbell) from the Bar T Ranch are enjoying a game of ‘pool’ down to Greely's Beer Garden and Billiard Parlor when Quick Mike rips open the table. They throw them­selves on the mercy of Sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman) rather than face the courts. The bar girls think they should be hanged for having made them more work cleaning the place and for disrupting its ambiance, but they will settle for a flog­ging. Owner Skinny Dubois (Anthony James) wants com­pen­sation to recoup his monetary loss. The sheriff levies a fine.

Word of a private ad hoc reward (that may or may not exist) for administering a more corporal punish­ment spreads out far and wide. English Bob (Richard Harris) who makes his living shooting China­men for the rail­road comes to town thinking to cash in on it. The sheriff gives him a royal thrashing and sends him packing. Little Bill thinks to dissuade others, but it's like the house he is building: he pounds a lot of boards but the roof still leaks.

farm handBy the time the story reaches Kansas, the reward has grown large enough to have bought the saloon out­right, and the crime is now of terrorist proportions. The perps deserve death. Hog farmer William Munny (Clint East­wood) and his erst­while partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) join forces with the newly minted Scofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) on a fool's errand to settle a score that's probably best left alone.


Will's mother-in-law had him pegged in his early life as, “a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition.” Webster defines “temperance 1: moderation in action, thought, or feeling: RESTRAINT.” As a Christian ethic it's expressed as being (1Cor. 9:24-25) “temperate in all things.” The three knights-errant in our story exhibit, each in his own way, a sphere of moderation that they either have or are culti­vating. Ned is moderate in action. Even in his glory days he found it hard to kill a man but did so when he was “drunk and full of beans.” Now, although he is still a crack shot with his Spencer rifle, he can't bring him­self to pull the trigger on a man he's not actually mad at.

The Scofield Kid comes around to being moderate in thought. He started thinking himself a ruthless killer, but his experience here shows other­wise. He will seriously amend down­ward the estimated number of men he's killed.

Will is moderate in feeling. He's as Little Bill describes, “A man who will keep his head and not get rattled under fire.” He's “cool-headed,” i.e. moderate in feeling.

The principle of moderation in virtue is severely tested when we see Will's reformed character revert to a darker side in order to scrape together some needed money to keep his farm afloat. In literature the principle of restraint in virtue is contemplated by St. John of Kronstadt: (552)

    Be moderate in all religious works, for moderation, even in virtue, correspondingly to your powers, according to circumstances of time, place, and previous labour, is prudent and wise.  It is well, for instance, to pray with a pure heart, but as soon as there is no correspondence between the prayer and your powers (energy), with the various circumstances of place and time, with your preceding labours, then it ceases to be a virtue.  There­fore the apostle Peter says, (2Peter 1:5) “add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;” (that is, do not be carried away by the heart only); (2Pet. 1:6) “And to knowledge temperance.”

The corresponding OT verse is well illustrated in this movie: (Eccl. 7:16-17) “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” Will stopped short of being “righteous over much.” Although he was a reformed sinner he did not let that stand in the way of doing what needed to be done (in a law­less west) to provide for his family.

Making him­self “over wise” was what English Bob did to get himself beat up so bad. He was a real wisen­heimer. He ragged on American presidents right when we were grieving over President Garfield having been shot.

Liberty BellEnglish Bob: “Well, sir, again I don't wish to give offense when I suggest that this country should select a, uh, king or even a queen instead of a president. One isn't that quick to shoot a king or a queen. The majesty of royalty, you see.

Joe: “Well, maybe you don't wish to give offense, sir, but you are giving it pretty thick. This country don't need no queens what­soever, I reckon. As a matter of fact what I heard about queens—”

Little Bill Daggett: “You been talking about that queen of yours, again, Bob?”

[punches him]

Little Bill Daggett: “On Independence Day?”

The charge to, “Be not over much wicked” is something the sadistic sheriff would have done well to heed. If his enhanced interrogation technique went too far, well in the wild west some­one just might come for Bill and he will “die before thy time” though he didn't feel he deserved it.

The two cowboys from the T Bar Ranch were just “good hardworking boys who did some­thing foolish;” they “were not given to wickedness in a regular way” (“like whores.”) And yet their single foolish act was like to cost them their lives in the still untamed west.

This movie is set at the start of the 1880's when English speaking Protestants had only one Bible version, the King James Version (KJV.) In 1885 England redid one with the English Revised Version, followed by its American counter­part in 1900, the American Standard Version. More trans­lations were to follow. There's a disturbing trend in these modern Bible translations to substitute the term self-control for temperance as if only in potential vices one needs to practice moderation. Self-control does not track with the plot of this movie the way temperance does.

Self-control, or lack of it, does show up dramatically in one place when western chronicler W.W. Beau­champ (Saul Rubinek) wets his pants for having a gun pointed at him. He's a self-styled biographer for various gunslingers but had never owned a gun himself. He takes care not to be confused with a writer of letters. For that matter the New Testament is but a collection of both letters (epistles) and biographies (gospels.) When Little Bill chides him for embel­lishing historical fact, Beauchamp defends that as a response to the “commercial factor.”

The “commercial factor” is just what God does not want made the guiding principle in translating his word. (Psalm 50:12-15) “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanks­giving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” God is more interested in the Bible being easy to remember so we can recall our vows and remember to turn to our creator by name and reputation. When English speakers had but one version, the KJV, it was easier to remember by dint of repetition. Modern versions, each one changing the words around, though it be in a minor way, make it harder to remember. But it's necessary commercially. The publishers can­not recoup their investment save the version they publish is copy­righted, and they won't receive a copy­right unless theirs is substantially different from others. There­fore they must change the wording though the former KJV wording be perfectly intelligible. When Will was lamenting over “the sins of my youth,” he was echoing (Psalm 25:7) “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my trans­gres­sions.” We, or at least God, doesn't want him to forget the lessons he's learned, not for some “commercial factor” that God doesn't need.

Production Values

” (1992) was directed by Clint Eastwood. It was written by David Webb Peoples. The film stars Eastwood as lead, with Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris in major roles. East­wood did his accomplished best as expected, and the other cow­boy and -girl roles were well acted, too.

MPAA rated it R for language, and violence, and for a scene of sexuality. It was filmed on location in Alberta, Canada. The scenery and music were great. The opening “Claudia's Song” was written by multi-talented Clint Eastwood and Lennie Niehaus. Claudia, William's still influential though deceased wife, can be seen in portraiture—if you look quick—when Will opens a chest to retrieve his pistol. She is one beautiful lady and a picture of propriety. I can see most any man giving up his vices, married to her.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This Oscar winning picture is an adult western classic. It's way up there with the best. It's a thinking man's western more than just a shoot-'em-up. Select it accordingly.

Movie Ratings

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

Works Cited

Scripture quotations are from the Authorized King James Version (KJV.) Pub. 1611. Rev. 1769. Software.

Sergieff, Archpriest John Iliytch. My Life in Christ. or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and Peace in God: Extracts from the diary of St. John of Kronstadt (Arch­priest John Iliytch Sergieff). Trans­lated with the author's sanction, from the Fourth and Supplemental Edition by E.E. Goulaeff. St. Peters­burg. Jordans­ville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2000. Print.

Webster's Ninth New College Dictionary. Spring­field, Massa­chusetts, Merriam-Webster, 1983. Print.