Silverado (film)
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan
Produced by Lawrence Kasdan
Written by Lawrence Kasdan Mark Kasdan
Starring Kevin KlineScott GlennKevin CostnerDanny GloverBrian DennehyJohn CleeseJeff Goldblum
Music by Bruce Broughton
Cinematography John Bailey
Editing by Carol Littleton
Studio Columbia Pictures Delphi III Productions
Distributed by Columbia PicturesSony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release date(s) July 12, 1985 (1985-07-12)
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $23,000,000[1]
Gross revenue $32,192,570[2]
Released November 12, 2005 (2005-11-12)
Genre Contemporary classical
Length 85:53
Label Intrada Records
Producer Bruce Broughton


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Silverado (film)

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Theatrical release poster

Silverado is a 1985 American Western film produced and directed by Lawrence Kasdan. The screenplay was written by Kasdan and his brother Mark Kasdan. The film depicts a chance encounter between a group of cowboys who travel to the town of Silverado, where they thwart the plans of a rancher and a corrupt sheriff. It features an ensemble cast, including Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, John Cleese, and Brian Dennehy.The film was produced by Columbia Pictures and Delphi III Productions, and distributed to theatres by Columbia, and by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for home media. The original motion picture soundtrack, with a score composed by Bruce Broughton, was released by Geffen Records. On November 12, 2005, an expanded two-disc version of the film score was released by the Intrada Records label.The film premiered in theaters in the United States on July 12, 1985, and grossed $32,192,570 in box office revenue. The film was considered a financial success for recouping its $23 million budget. Through an 11-week run, the film was shown at 1,190 theaters at its widest release. The film was generally met with positive critical reviews. It was nominated for Best Sound and Best Original Score at the Academy Awards.


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Emmett (Scott Glenn) is ambushed by three men while he sleeps in a deserted shack. In a brief gunfight, he kills all of the assailants. As he travels to Silverado, Emmett finds a man, Paden (Kevin Kline), lying in the desert, having been robbed and left to die.

Emmett and Paden ride to the town of Turley to meet Emmett's brother, Jake (Kevin Costner), who is locked up and awaiting hanging for killing a man in self-defense. Paden is later jailed when he encounters and kills one of the men who robbed him. Emmett aids Jake and Paden in a breakout with the help of Mal (Danny Glover), a black cowboy who was run out of town by sheriff John Langston (John Cleese).

After helping a wagon train of settlers recover their stolen money from thieves, and leading them to Silverado, the group disbands to find their relatives and settle into the town. Emmett and Jake learn from their sister's husband, the land agent for the area, that rancher Ethan McKendrick (Ray Baker) is attempting to maintain the open range, which he will dominate with his enormous herds of cattle, by driving all lawful claimants off the land. Emmett had killed McKendrick's father years earlier in a gunfight, and McKendrick had hired the men who attempted to kill Emmett upon his release from prison. Mal finds his father Ezra (Joe Seneca), left destitute after his home had been burned down and his land overrun by cattle.

It is soon revealed that the sheriff Cobb (Brian Dennehy), an old friend of Paden's, is on McKendrick's payroll. After McKendrick's men murder Ezra, burn the land office, and kidnap Emmett's nephew Augie (Thomas Wilson Brown); Paden, Mal, Emmett, and Jake determine to defy Cobb. The four stampede McKendrick's cattle to provide cover for a raid on his ranch, in which most of the bandits are killed and the kidnapped boy is rescued. They then return to town, where in a series of encounters, each defeats his own personal enemy. In the last of these, Paden kills Cobb in a duel. Emmett and Jake leave for California, their long stated goal, while Mal and his sister reunite and decide to rebuild their father's homestead. Paden stays in Silverado as the new sheriff.


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  • Kevin Kline as Paden
  • Scott Glenn as Emmett
  • Rosanna Arquette as Hannah
  • John Cleese as Sheriff John T. Langston
  • Kevin Costner as Jake
  • Brian Dennehy as Sheriff Cobb
  • Danny Glover as Mal
  • Jeff Goldblum as Calvin "Slick" Stanhope
  • Linda Hunt as Stella
  • Joe Seneca as Ezra Johnson
  • Ray Baker as Ethan McKendrick
  • Thomas Wilson Brown as Augie
  • Jeff Fahey as Deputy Tyree
  • Lynn Whitfield as Rae Johnson
  • Amanda Wyss as Phoebe
  • Richard Jenkins as Kelly
  • James Gammon as Dawson
  • Sheb Wooley as Cavalry Sergeant
  • Earl Hindman as J.T.
  • Pepe Serna as Scruffy


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The film was shot primarily on location in New Mexico. In 1984, Lawrence and Mark Kasdan and crew were out scouting a remote area of New Mexico by helicopter, hoping to find the most suitable place to build the town of Silverado. The location manager appeared at the property of local natives Bill and Marian Cook. At that time they wanted to build only two to three structures, offering Cook a "casual number" as a location fee. "There wasn't any great motivation for me one way or another, but I said okay. It just grew from that into a big budget movie and the Silverado set was built," Cook recalled. The set was appropriately dressed and filmed for towns in four different states, depending on the view from the streets - mountains or prairie or the Galisteo River.

In an interview with Trailer Addict, actor Scott Glenn related how casting profoundly influences directing. In reference to different actors working together, he mentioned how he "really liked" Kevin Costner, and how he thought Kevin was "easy and comfortable" to be around. He exclaimed, "there is real magic going on with that performance." Glenn spent his time kidding around with Costner addressing him by saying, "hey movie star!" during that earlier stage in his career.


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Critical response
Among mainstream critics in the U.S., the film received mostly positive reviews.Rotten Tomatoes reported that 76% of 29 sampled critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 6.8 out of 10. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average out of 100 to critics' reviews, the film received a score of 64 based on 14 reviews. At the 58th Academy Awards, Silverado was nominated for Best Music (Original Score), and Best Sound. In 1986, the film garnered a nomination for the Artios Award in the category of Best Casting for a Feature Film (Drama) by the Casting Society of America.

Critic Janet Maslin, writing in The New York Times, said of director Kasdan, "he creates the film's most satisfying moments by communicating his own sheer enjoyment in revitalizing scenes and images that are so well-loved." Impressed, she exlaimed, "Silverado is a sweeping, glorious-looking western that's at least a full generation removed from the classic films it brings to mind."Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times called it "sophisticated" while remarking, "This is a story, you will agree, that has been told before. What distinguishes Kasdan's telling of it is the style and energy he brings to the project." In the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Stack wrote that the film "delivers elaborate gun-fighting scenes, legions of galloping horses, stampeding cattle, a box canyon, covered wagons, tons of creaking leather and even a High Noonish duel." He openly mused, "How it manages to run the gamut of cowboy movie elements without getting smart-alecky is intriguing." In a mixed review, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune, said the film was "a completely successful physical attempt at reviving the western, but its script would need a complete rewrite for it to become more than just a small step in a full-scale western revival." Another indecisive review came from Jay Carr of The Boston Globe. He noted that Silverado "plays like a big-budget regurgitation of old Westerns. What keeps it going is the generosity that flows between Kasdan and his actors. It's got benevolent energies, but not the more primal kind needed to renew the standard Western images and archetypes." In an entirely negative critique, film critic Jay Scott of The Globe and Mail said the all too familiar "manipulative Star Wars-style score is the only novelty on tap in Silverado, which has a plot too drearily complicated and arid to summarize". Left equally unimpressed was Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader. Commenting on director Kasdan's style, he said his "considerable skills as a plot carpenter seem to desert him as soon as the story moves to the town of the title." As far as the supporting cast was concerned, he dryly noted, "none of them assumes enough authority to carry the moral and dramatic center of the film." Giving Silverado 4 out 5 stars, author Ian Freer of Empire, thought the film was the "kind of picture that makes you want to play cowboys the moment it is over." He exclaimed, "Whereas many of the westerns from the ‘70s try a revisionist take on the genre, Silverado offers a wholehearted embracing of western traditions."

The staff at Variety, reserved praise for the film stating that the real rewards of the picture lie in its "visuals" saying, "rarely has the West appeared so alive, yet unlike what one carries in his mind's eye. Ida Random's production design is thoroughly convincing in detail." Julie Salamon writing for The Wall Street Journal, voiced positive sentiment joyfully exclaiming that Silverado "looks great and moves fast. Mr. Kasdan has packed his action well against the fearsomely long, dusty stretches of Western plain." Describing some pitfalls, David Sterritt of The Christian Science Monitor said, "When pure storytelling takes over after an hour or so, the picture becomes less original and engaging." Sterritt however was quick to admit, "The cinematography by John Bailey is stunning," but he frustratingly noted that "Like the last movie Lawrence Kasdan gave us, The Big Chill, it's best when the carefully chosen cast throws itself into developing characters and building their relationships." Injecting some positive opinion, the staff at Total Film viewed Silverado as a creation of the "Kasdan brothers' ebullient love letter to the horse operas of their youth", while throwing in "every Western cliché imaginable. It's not as rousing as it thinks, despite the efforts of Bruce Broughton's strident score, but looks terrific - all big skies and wide-open spaces."

Richard Corliss of Time, didn't find the picture to be compelling stating how the film "sprays the buckshot of its four or five story lines across the screen with the abandon of a drunken galoot aiming at a barn door. Though the film interrupts its chases and shootouts to let some fine actors stare meaningfully or spit out a little sagebrush wisdom, it rarely allows them to build the camaraderie that an old cowhand like Gabby Hayes exuded with no sweat." He ultimately came to the conclusion that Silverado "proves it takes more than love of the western to make a good one. Maybe the dudes at K-Tell were a mite too slick for the job." Similarly, in an equally pessimistic tone, the staff at TV Guide described how "Lawrence Kasdan bloats the plot with dozens of side stories that, in painfully predictable detail, show how each of our heroes has a reason for being in Silverado and why they decide to stick their necks out. Though much of the running time is devoted to these expository passages, it's all very basic and shallow."

Box office
The film premiered in cinemas on July 12, 1985 in wide release throughout the U.S.. During its opening weekend, the film opened in 7th place grossing $3,522,897 in business showing at 1,168 locations. The film, Back to the Future came in first place during that weekend grossing $10,555,133. The film's revenue increased by 3% in its second week of release, earning $3,631,204. For that particular weekend, the film moved up to 5th place screening in 1,190 theaters. Back to the Future remained in first place grossing $10,315,305 in box office revenue. During the film's final release week in theaters, Silverado opened in a distant 11th place with $741,840 in revenue. The film went on to top out domestically at $32,192,570 in total ticket sales through an 11-week theatrical run. For 1985 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 28.

Home media

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Following its cinematic release in theaters, the film was released in VHS video format on July 8, 1994. A collector's edition VHS edition featuring a remastered recording was released on June 1, 1999. The Region 1 Code widescreen edition of the film was released on DVD in the United States on February 3, 2009. Special features for the DVD include; filmographies, the making of Silverado, and subtitles in Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), English, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai. Additionally, a two-disc Special Edition DVD was also released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on April 5, 2005. Special features include; A Return to Silverado with Kevin Costner featurette, Along the Silverado Trail: A Western Historians' commentary, Superbit Presentation, Top Western Shootouts featurette, Talent Files, Bonus Previews, Exclusive 16-page movie scrapbook and Collectible Silverado Playing Cards.

The widescreen hi-definition Blu-ray Disc version of the film was released on September 8, 2009. Special features include; A Return to Silverado with Kevin Costner featurette, the making of Silverado, and Along the Silverado Trail: A Western Historians' commentary. A supplemental viewing option for the film in the media format of Video on demand is available as well.


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The original motion picture soundtrack for Silverado, was originally released by Geffen Records in 1985. On November 12, 2005, an expanded two-disc version of the film score was released by the Intrada Records music label. The score for the film was composed and conducted by Bruce Broughton and mixed by Donald O. Mitchell. Gene Feldman and Erma Levin edited the film's music.

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