Young Guns (1988)

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    • Young Guns (1988)




      Plot Summary
      1878 in New Mexico: John Tunstall picks up young gun men from the road to have them work on his ranch, but also to teach them reading and to civilize them. However he's a thorn in the side of the rich rancher Murphy, as he's a competitor in selling cattle. One day he's shot by Murphy's men. Judge Wilson can't do anything, since Sheriff Brady is one of Murphy's men. But attorney Alex persuades him to constitute Tunstall's young friends to Deputies and give them warrants of arrest for the murderers. Instead of arresting them, William Bonney just shoots them down. Soon the 5 guys become famous and William gets the name "Billie the Kid" - but they're also chased by dozens of Murphy's men and the army. The people however honor him as fighter for justice.
      Written by Tom Zoerner

      Emilio Estevez ... William H. 'Billy the Kid' Bonney
      Kiefer Sutherland ... Josiah Gordon 'Doc' Scurlock
      Lou Diamond Phillips ... 'Jose' Chavez y Chavez
      Charlie Sheen ... Richard 'Dick' Brewer
      Dermot Mulroney ... Dirty Steve Stephens
      Casey Siemaszko ... Charles 'Charley' Bowdre
      Terence Stamp ... John Tunstall
      Jack Palance ... Lawrence G. Murphy
      Terry O'Quinn ... Alex McSween
      Sharon Thomas Cain ... Susan McSween (as Sharon Thomas)
      Geoffrey Blake ... J. McCloskey
      Alice Carter ... Yen Sun
      Brian Keith ... Buckshot Roberts
      Thomas Callaway ... Texas Joe Grant (as Tom Callaway)
      Patrick Wayne ... Patrick Floyd 'Pat' Garrett
      Lisa Banes ... Mallory
      Sam Gauny ... Morton
      Cody Palance ... Baker
      Gadeek ... Henry Hill
      Victor Izay ... Justice Wilson
      Allen Keller ... John Kinney (as Allen Robert Keller)
      Craig Erickson ... Sheriff George Peppin (as Craig M. Erikson)
      Jeremy Lepard ... Jimmy Dolan (as Jeremy H. Lepard)
      Danny Kamin ... Sheriff Brady (as Daniel Kamin)
      Richela Renkun ... Bargirl
      Pat Finn-Lee ... Janey (as Pat Lee)
      Gary Kanin ... Colonel Nathan Dudley
      Forrest Broadley ... Rynerson
      Alan Tobin ... Bartender
      Joey Hamlin ... Deputy Hindman (as Joey Hanks)
      Loyd Lee Brown ... Soldier
      Elena Parres ... Manuela's Mother
      and many more...

      Christopher Cain

      Writing Credits
      John Fusco ... (written by)

      Christopher Cain ... producer
      John Fusco ... executive producer
      James G. Robinson ... executive producer
      Joe Roth ... producer
      Paul Schiff ... co-producer
      Irby Smith ... co-producer

      Brian Banks
      Anthony Marinelli

      Dean Semler ... director of photography

      In the final battle, on a day he wasn't shooting, Emilio Estevez dressed as a bad guy and fought along with them.

      Emilio Estevez was very depressed throughout the shoot because he had recently broken up with his girlfriend. One night, Lou Diamond Phillips decided to play a prank on him in an effort to cheer him up. Phillips had the wardrobe department put make-up on a sheep, dress it up, and put in Emilio's room.

      It is confirmed in an audio commentary by Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney and Casey Siemaszko that Tom Cruise has a uncredited cameo in the shootout at the McSween House. His face clearly appears on screen in slow motion when he is killed.

      In an impressive nod to historical accuracy, when Col. Nathan Dudley arrives at the siege of the McSween house with a detachment of cavalry, the troopers are correctly portrayed by African Americans. The U.S. Army was segregated at this time and New Mexico was policed by the 9th U.S. Cavalry, a unit composed of black soldiers under the command of white commissioned officers and black non-commissioned officers.

      Like virtually all movies about the events surrounding the Lincoln County War, John Tunstall is incorrectly depicted as an older, sophisticated man. In reality, John Tunstall was only 24 years old when he was murdered. He was in fact younger than most of the Regulators. By contrast, Josiah "Doc" Scurlock was 31 at the time of Tunstall's murder and Richard "Dick" Brewer was 27. Only the youngest regulator, William H. Bonney, aka Billy the Kid was younger, being 20 at the time of the Lincoln County War.

      Lou Diamond Phillips stated in the commentary that he went to a meeting with the producers for what he thought was an audition. After explaining his character to him, he had thought they wanted him to act out a scene. After an odd pause John Fusco the producer said "well?" - Phillips realized this wasn't an audition but they were offering him the part of Chavez.

      Tom Cruise was disguised with a mustache and is hiding behind the barricades on the street during the shootout.

      In one scene Billy is reading a report that claims he is a lefty. To this he replies, "I ain't left-handed." This is a reference to films, books and media wrongly claiming Billy the Kid was left-handed based on the tintype photograph of him (tintypes produce a reversed image), making Billy look like he used his left hand to shoot.

      It is widely believed that Billy the Kid's real name was William H. Bonney. However, the film is correct in listing that as only one of his aliases, and giving his real name as Henry McCarty.

      In the scene where the men are going through the Indian Village (Spirit World), Kiefer Sutherland's character "Doc" is shown in the front of the group with a cover on his face, but it is not Kiefer Sutherland. He left that morning before the scene was shot, due to the birth of his child.

      Charlie Sheen was reportedly a terrible horse rider. Throughout the shoot he couldn't keep his balance on the horse and fell off several times. After the shoot out with Henry Hill, his horse took off and he had no clue how to make it stop.

      Dialogue by Casey Siemaszko's character is sampled in the seminal 1994 hip-hop song "Regulate" by Warren G. and Nate Dogg, but according to the DVD commentary Siemaszko had no clue that this happened nor had he heard of the song itself.

      In the scene where Billy is having Doc write a letter to the Governor, Emilio Estevez wanted to make it look like he was making the speech off the top of his head, so the crew made a cue card for him to read. If you look closely, you can actually see his eyes moving while he is reciting the speech.

      In the audio commentary Casey Siemaszko reveals the prostitute Charlie goes to see was actually a longer scene, and the end of the scene he tells the guys the woman was his mother.

      The fight with Buckshot Roberts is broadly true to the historical record; however, there are some things left out. For starters, Roberts was in front of a small house when the battle started, not an outhouse. He also was shot and slowly dying from a gut wound he'd received from Charlie Bowdre's rifle at the beginning of the fight. Also Billy's attempt to take Roberts was almost successful. Billy counted the number of shots Roberts had fired and, figuring he was empty, charged the house doorway. Billy made it to Roberts himself and stuck his rifle in Roberts' face. But then Roberts slammed his own rifle butt into Billy's stomach and knocked the wind clean out of him. Billy rolled away from the house as Roberts retreated inside. It was inside the house that Roberts found the rifle he used to kill Dick Brewer by nearly blowing his head clean off. Roberts died from his wound the next day and he and Dick Brewer were buried at the site of the battle.

      During the shoot out at the bar, the ammo blanks were packed with ceramic plaster for a louder sound. While filming the scene pieces of hot plaster were hitting the actors. Emilio Estevez was actually hit in the face, causing filming to stop for a short period while he got checked over. Dermot Mulroney was also shot in the shoulder blade.

      Contrary to the depiction in this movie, "Dirty" Steve Stephens survived the Lincoln County War. After the conflict he left Lincoln announcing his intention to relocate to Denver Colorado. From there, like so many of the minor players in the Lincoln County War, he simply vanishes from history. His ultimate fate and final resting place remain unknown to this day.

      Patrick Wayne plays Pat Garrett. His legendary father, John Wayne, starred in Chisum (1970), another movie about the Lincoln County Wars of 1878 that featured Pat Garrett (played by Glenn Corbett) and Billy the Kid (Geoffrey Deuel).

      In the final battle preparations Kiefer Sutherland had to put on a "squib blood pack" vest underneath his clothes. The rig was supposed to be triggered by Sutherland himself by pressing a hidden button. The whole rig took an hour to set up. When it was time to shoot the scene, Sutherland got on his horse and accidentally pressed the trigger, popping all of the blood packs. Setting the rig up again took another hour.

      At night, the actors would actually get together to play music and sing. When they were drunk, they'd make Lou Diamond Phillips sing "La Bamba."

      A few members of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club were used as extras in the bar scene when the group goes to arrest Henry Hill. The members were also used as extra security during the shooting of the final battle due to the fact that crowds of onlookers were getting too big during filming.

      The term Regulators was applied to any private armed security force usually found in the employ of cattle, oil or railroad barons. Their primary function was to prevent the theft of their employer's property or, in a more sinister context, to serve as muscle to enforce their employer's will. They were most often veterans of the U. S. Civil War who either enjoyed that kind of work or simply had no other marketable skills.

      Randy Travis has an uncredited cameo as the Gatling Gun Operator

      The cast joked around all the time, including making fun of how Charlie Sheen pronounced "Billay."

      None of the movie's fight scenes were choreographed. The actors just improvised.

      In the film, there are six members in Billy's gang, the "Regulators." In real life, however, there were eleven, including George Coe who was a good friend of John Tunstall.

      James Horner wrote the film's original score but it was rejected for being too ethnic in Irish tone that the producers and director Christopher Cain wanted a more traditional Western score. Horner's score for this film has not been heard publicly.

      Fans often ask the actors if they really did peyote. It was actually cream of mushroom soup.

      Lou Diamond Phillips kept his buffalo skin jacket as a memento.

      When they were first learning to ride, the actors played "Tag" on horseback in the sand.

      Kiefer Sutherland was the youngest of the outlaws at 21.

      This is actress Alice Carter's first movie. These days, she's an acting teacher.

      Baker, the guy who gets knifed, is Jack Palance's son Cody Palance.

      Hamburger meat was used for McCloskey's brains.

      Lou Diamond Phillips is afraid of heights. That's why he moves so slowly on the 30-foot high cliff.

      Some of the actors rode so fast that Christopher Cain yelled at them for being dangerous. Lou Diamond Phillips recalled, "It was the one day when he sort of chastised us for being young."

      Casey Siemaszko plays Charlie, a pugilistic cowboy, who happens to be "handy" with his fists. In Of Mice and Men (1992), Casey Siemaszko plays Curley, a rancher's son, who is "handy" with his fists.

      This was the first movie where BOTH the more well known brothers Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez are CREDITED in the same film. Men at Work (1990) was the first where they both held equal billing as joint lead roles.

      Charles Myers who was the 1st Assistant Director of the film played the doomed character of Henry Hill. The movie credits list him as Gadeek.

      The production hired members of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club to help control crowds of onlookers while filming.

      Geoffrey Blake (McCloskey) acted alongside Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen again in Men at Work (1990).

      It was so cold in one scene, the stuntman playing Tunstall was hurt just hitting the frozen ground.

      The "bathtub" had to be dug by hand in the middle of New Mexico. Because it was winter, they had to pour buckets of hot water into it between takes.

      When Murphy arrives at the siege of McSween's house, he is told that there are 30 men hiding in the house. While this number greatly exaggerates in the context of the film, thirty was closer to the number of Regulators that actually did take part in the Battle of Lincoln (the film depicts only five).

      When Terry O'Quinn's character Alex is shot and killed there are no squib marks on him. Apparently the producers felt the film was getting too bloody and they feared the movie would get an X rating.

      Dick Brewer gets killed by being shot in the stomach during the shootout with Buckshot Roberts. In reality, he had the top of his head blown off. However, everything else about the shootout is true to life, other than Doc being shot in the hand. This was actually George Coe who got his finger shot off.

      According to the documentary included in the special edition DVD, Casey Siemaszko's character "Charlie Bowdre" was a real historical figure who actually survived the gunfight at Alex McSween's house. He died in the movie; however, in real life he survived until a gunfight (at Stinking Springs, NM) that was depicted in Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory (1990). After his own death, a mere 7 months later, Billy was laid to rest next to Charlie and Tom O'Folliard in the old Fort Sumner Cemetery.

      In the final shootout, in a quick cut, one of the soldiers firing from behind the barricade appears to have aviator sunglasses on.

      The "sad ballad" that Billy whistles to let Texas Joe Grant know that he is in fact Billy the Kid is Seán Ó Riada's "Mná na h-Éireann" ("Women of Ireland"), written in the early 1960's.

      The men in the cantina sing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". The popular song was written 34 years after the events of the film took place. The composer of the music, Ernest R. Ball, was born the year of the same events.

      During the opening credit sequence at least two of the characters firing in the line pull Smith & Wesson Model 1899 Military & Police double action revolvers. As the title implies this type of pistol wasn't introduced till 1899, 21 years after the events portrayed in the film.

      As the Regulators are returning home from the New Year's dance, they shoot at a bunch of pheasants. Pheasants do not live in Lincoln County, NM, nor were they prevalent in the US during the Lincoln County War, 1878-1881. Pheasant pairs were released in 1881 in Oregon, and propagated from there.

      African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans are seen firing side by side in the battle at McSween's house. While the African-American units did have white members (the officer class), it is clear from the number and position of the white soldiers that they cannot all be officers. US Army units were not desegregated until 1948.

      When the Regulators are saying prayers before a meal Richard leads them in the Lord's Prayer starting "Our Father, who art in heaven". At the time the Lord's Prayer was recited as "Our Father, which art in heaven".

      When Billy hands Alex the picture of himself, Billy's thumb is by his head in the photo, When he drops his arm, you can clearly see he is holding the picture by the feet.

      The position of the three knives thrown at Billy.

      Doc's hat during the shoot-out at the brother by the river.

      Crew or equipment visible
      During the shoot-out with Buckshot Roberts, a lighting stand is clearly visible behind Dick Brewer as he takes refuge behind the wood pile.

      Hand of crew member visible making Dirty Steve's horse react to the gunshot.

      Factual errors
      At one point, a character remarks that none of the Regulators are 'over 21'. Even if you exclude the Regulators who were omitted from the film, this statement is completely false. Billy the Kid was the only one whose age was actually under 21. Chavez was 26 during the events of the film, Charlie was 30, Doc was 29, and Richard Brewer was 28.

      When Richard is reading "in so much as it pleaseth Almighty God..." at Tunstall's burial he is holding a Bible. The funeral rite and the words he is supposedly reading are not in the Bible, but in the Book of Common Prayer.

      Revealing mistakes
      Late in the movie, Doc stands up during the gunfight and bumps the brick chimney/piling and it bounces as though made of rubber.

      In the final battle, Billy is shown being shot left arm, when this happens you can see sparks come out from the arm from the rig that makes the explosion

      In the beginning of the movie when Billy is first taken in to the ranch it appears he's getting ready to shoot a pig. As he's taking aim you can see the sun shining through the barrel from behind him making it obvious that the gun is not loaded.

      When Billy shoots Murphy at the end, the close up of Billy shows him with his left arm on his right using it for balance. After he shoots, there's a close up of Murphy with Billy in the background with his left arm in the air. The next close up of Billy has left arm still on his right using it for balance.

      Factual errors
      John Kinney and Lawrence Murphy did not die as is depicted in the final battle at the McSween house. Kinney was shot in the face by a bullet from Billy the Kid, but he survived and lived another 40 years after the event. Murphy was already sick from cancer at the time of the Lincoln County War, and died a few months after the Battle of Lincoln.

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Old Tucson Studios, Tucson, Arizona, USA (Various Locations)
      Bonanza Creek Ranch - 15 Bonanza Creek Lane, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
      Cerrillos, New Mexico, USA
      Galisteo, New Mexico, USA
      Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, USA
      Rancho de las Golondrinas - 334 Los Pinos Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
      Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico, USA
      Tucson, Arizona, USA
      Sonoran Desert, Arizona, USA
      Best Wishes
      London- England
    • Young Guns is a 1988 American western film directed by
      Christopher Cain and written by John Fusco.
      The film is the first installment in the Young Gun film series and the first to be produced by
      Morgan Creek Productions.
      The film stars Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips,
      Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Terence Stamp,
      Terry O'Quinn, Brian Keith, and Jack Palance.

      Young Guns is a retelling of the adventures of Billy the Kid during the Lincoln County War,
      which took place in New Mexico during 1877–78.
      It was filmed in and around New Mexico. Historian Dr. Paul Hutton called Young Guns
      the most historically accurate of all prior Billy the Kid films.
      It opened no. 1 at the box office, eventually earning $45 million from a moderate $11 million budget.
      A sequel, Young Guns II, was released in 1990.

      The movie received mostly negative reviews from critics.
      It currently holds a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 25 reviews.

      The movie was a box office hit. It grossed $45.6 million domestically

      User Review

      Interesting modern western relies a little too heavily on cliche
      18 July 2001 | by bobc-5 (Silver Spring, MD)

      silver wrote:

      An Englishman running a New Mexico ranch in the old west recruits wayward young men to be his ranch hands. Among their duties is protecting the ranch from his more powerful and villainous neighbors, thus earning them the title "regulators". Through a combination of discipline and nurturing, he is able to civilize the men and give them discipline. When murdered by another rancher, the regulators are deputized to help catch the men who did it. But one of the regulators, known now as Billy the Kid, is a relative newcomer who has not yet learned self-discipline. Engaged in a power struggle for leadership of the group, he is far more interested in killing the villains than bringing them to justice, thus turning the group into outlaws themselves.

      Although the movie is very well made, it never really explores the potential of the plot, relying instead on cliches to entertain us. It also seems completely confused in its portrayal of the main character. Is William Bonney a homicidal maniac or a fiercely loyal man out to avenge the death of a father figure? Is he a caustic head-strong youth or a steely smooth-talking leader? Depending on the scene, you can take your pick. He's clearly supposed to be a sympathetic anti-hero, but this is accomplished only by turning his antagonist into a cartoonishly evil villain, portrayed in perfectly predictable manner by Jack Palance. The shootout scenes are nicely filmed, but as the movie progresses they move more and more towards standard western cliche.

      The strongest point of this movie is the relationship of the characters played by Sutherland and Estevez. Doc is strongly attracted to Billy the Kid and admires his strength of character at the same time that he fears him and is repulsed by his murderous actions. Both actors do an excellent job trying to pull this off in spite of the limited development which the script allows. This and the support of a very competent cast makes the film worth watching but not necessarily worth going out of your way for.
      Best Wishes
      London- England

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