THE ONLY THING GREATER THAN THEIR PASSION FOR AMERICA… WAS THEIR PASSION FOR EACH OTHER.
Director Michael Cimino’s legendary follow-up to The Deer Hunter (1978) ruined his reputation and became such a commercial failure that it almost destroyed a movie studio – but the criticism hasn’t always been fair. This depiction of the 1890s Johnson County War may be insanely longwinded, not always coherent and completely fails to introduce any engaging characters… but the senseless historic conflict is nevertheless portrayed with passion (as in Deer Hunter) and the lavish budget shows in the exquisite technical details.
1980-U.S. 219 min. Color. Widescreen. Written and directed by Michael Cimino. Cinematography: Vilmos Zsigmond. Cast: Kris Kristofferson (James Averill), Christopher Walken (Nathan Champion), Isabelle Huppert (Ella Watson), Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston… Brad Dourif, Joseph Cotten, Terry O’Quinn, Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe.
Trivia: Dafoe’s first film. Also shown at 149 min. At one point, John Wayne was allegedly considered for the lead; Jane Fonda, Sally Field and Diane Keaton as Ella. When the budget started getting out of hand, the studio considered replacing Cimino with Norman Jewison; the movie ended up costing $44 million and only took $3 million at the box office.
Razzie: Worst Director.