Here at Ruthless we love our Westerns and especially the shoot-out scenes where the bad guys get their just due. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West did their showdown scenes in the brilliant sunshine, but the final showdown in Unforgiven was on a dark, rainy night in the town of Big Whiskey and at the Greely Saloon.
It is raining heavily as Bill Munny rides slowly into town, only to be greeted by the grisly sight of his former friend, dead in an upright coffin, desecrated. What happens after this is an unforgettable shoot-out that features Clint Eastwood at his snarling, deadly best. The tension and subsequent action in the film is only surpassed by some of the best and most chilling dialogue ever uttered in a Western.
- “Who’s the fellow who owns this shithole” [Munny guns down saloon owner]
- “Well, sir, you are a cowardly son of a bitch! You just shot an unarmed man!” says Little Bill
- “Well, he should have armed himself if he’s going to decorate his saloon with my friend.” snarls Bill Munny
If that is not totally ruthless, I don’t know what is. After a misfire of his shotgun chaos ensues as the men in the saloon open fire on Munny. What happens next is adequate testimony that scared men can’t shoot straight. Munny is cool and focused as Clint Eastwood again demonstrates his mastery of orchestrated violence. He shoots Little Bill first, then calmly and methodically guns down the rest. The remaining men who were cowering under the saloon tables are tersely told by Munny to “get out”. They oblige.
- “I don’t deserve this… to die like this. I was building a house.” says Little Bill
- “Deserves got nothing to do with it” snarls Munny
- “I’ll see you in Hell, William Munny” gasps Little Bill
- “Yeah” says Munny as he finishes off Little Bill
There are many memorable Western shoot-out scenes and it is not a coincidence that Clint Eastwood is in most of them. He sets a high bar, but I think this one is his very best.