Sunday, March 29, 2020

Don't Make a Scene: Silverado

For Amanda K (of whom her Dad should be proud) 

The Story: I don't do an awful lot of requests (not that many people read this blog or have an interest in my personal "take" to do so...or many they don't want to intrude on my pedantry...Yeah, that's how I'll think of it). It was more than a year ago, when I did a podcast for The Large Association of Movie Blogs on James Bond: The Connery Years, which was fun and convivial, hosted by Jay Cluitt and as panelists, the father-daughter team of Richard Kirkham and Amanda Kirkham, both film enthusiasts and bloggers, Bond-experts, and very good at what they do. Amanda had just had her choice for LAMB movie of the Month, Silverado, chosen for scrutiny. I'd done a Don't Make a Scene on it previously...but the film is so good, I was wanting to do another, but just not sure which one—of many—to pick. The film's an embarrassment of riches.

So, I asked Amanda, who loves it—she named her dog "Paden". Can't go wrong with enthusiasm.

And her choice surprised me: It's the scene in the box canyon, a sort of cut-back on the way to Silverado, and doesn't even feature one of the principles. It does, however, show you just how well-matched Paden, Emmett, and Mal are in their gun-fighting skills and reaction-time.*'s long...a rough estimate of the scene saw so many details that I knew it would take a lot of time.** 

But, lately, I've had plenty of time.

So, it's been a year. But, better late...

The transcript is from the Production Draft—no date on it—and I didn't change a thing (except add dialog from the minor characters of Dawson and Baxter that wasn't present at that point, and didn't "tweak" from transcripts, as they were so close in intent...some scene descriptions don't match the pictures, but that's what editors are for. 

The Set-Up: Four expert gun-men—Paden (Kevin Kline), Mal (Danny Glover), Emmett (Scott Glenn) and his brother Jake (Kevin Costner)—have managed to cross their disparate paths to find themselves on the way to Silverado. They come across the Hobart wagon train, stranded on their way to the same destination due to the robbery of the strongbox holding the party's stake. As Jake gets the group back on track, Paden, Mal and Jake, along with the insistent (and understandably suspicious) settler Conrad (Rusty Meyers) go track the robbers to try to retrieve the ill-gotten chest of gold and greenbacks.



The four men crawl to the lip of the canyon and get a clear view of the activity below;
the box canyon has been turned into a hideout for the Dawson Gang, a band of border raiders.
There are about twenty-five outlaws moving about among the tents, caves, and wagons of the encampment. Their horses are penned in a natural alcove in the rock off the main floor of the canyon. The strongbox from the wagon train sits on the tailgate of a wagon. Next to it is a large keg of whiskey from which the outlaws are drawing generous portions. Baxter and Hawley have brought the loot proudly back to their cohorts, and the celebration is centered around this wagon. On the rim the pursuers exchange looks in reaction to this new situation. 
PADEN (to Emmett) You know, 
PADEN ...hanging around with you is no picnic. 
EMMETT Anybody got any ideas? 
DAWSON You really did it this time, Nord.
One of the outlaws spills some whiskey onto the money in the strongbox. DAWSON, the leader of the gang, angrily slams the strongbox closed and kicks the offending outlaw. 
BAXTER Thank you, Boss. Tom did his part, too. 
Suddenly, there are cries of warning from the Sentinel at the entrance to the box canyon. 
HOOFBEATS echo into the canyon from that direction. The outlaws react en masse with a frightening display of armed readiness. 
WHERE THE TRAIL ENTERS THE CANYON. From the shadows emerge two galloping horses: on the first is Emmett, who holds the reins of the second, across whose saddle is draped the seemingly lifeless body of Paden. 
The Sentinel watches them pass under the point of his carbine.
SENTINEL Comin' in! 
Emmett dismounts quickly and ties both horses to a wheel. 
Dawson decides not to shoot this guy yet. 
He watches as Emmett runs back across the canyon to the cover of some crates and crouches down behind them, looking up at the rim above the entrance. The outlaws, guns pointed, stand around him. 
TALL OUTLAW (to Dawson) Should I kill him, Mr. Dawson? 
DAWSON (approaching Emmett) In a minute! 
Emmett, still cowering, looks over his shoulder at Dawson. He speaks now, and throughout, very fast. 
EMMETT I wouldn't do that. You're going to need every gun when that posse gets here. 
DAWSON Posse? What the hell you talking about? 
EMMETT My partner and me robbed the bank in Turley and headed out with a posse on our tails. My partner there caught one a ways back, and I think he kicked off while I was looking for this damn canyon.
EMMETT You're Dawson, ain't you? I'm Tex LaRue. (offers his hand for only a second) Used to ride with Ry Morris. You know him. 
EMMETT Well, Andy Sims told me there was a hideout here, so I headed for it. Hope you don't mind. 
Paden, lying over the saddle, his face shielded by his hat, winces at this story. 
DAWSON You brought a posse to my best hideout and you want to know if I mind. Mister, I don't know any of those names and you're about to die. 
EMMETT Wait a minute! If you don't believe me, ask them... (indicates Baxter and Hawley) 
EMMETT ...they saw me and my pal in Turley before we did the job. Baxter and Hawley peer at Emmett and nod to each other. 
BAXTER I saw 'em there, all right, but I don't know about any bank job. 
DAWSON If you took the bank in Turley, where's the money? 
Emmett crouches lower, looking nervously at the rocks. 
EMMETT I'd get down if I were you. They may be up there now. 
DAWSON (just as he suspected) No money, eh? 
EMMETT The money's in my saddlebags over there, but I ain't stepping out to get it. 
The outlaws, all of whom are standing in the open, think he's crazy. 
Dawson motions Hawley toward Emmett's horse. 
Hawley is almost there when gunfire erupts from the rocks above and Hawley goes down dead. 
Now all the outlaws hit the dirt, some firing wildly. Paden unobtrusively frees his rope. 
Dawson comes down beside Emmett. 
Conrad and Mal fire into the canyon, then move to new positions. 

ABOVE THE ENTRANCE to the box canyon the Sentinel disappears into the rocks, moving upward. 
AT THE CRATES. Down the line from Emmett, an outlaw gets hit. The outlaws can't see anything to shoot at. 
DAWSON Stop your firin'! 'Til you see somethin'!
EMMETT (agitated) If we charge them, they won't have a chance. But we gotta get to the horses. 

DAWSON What do you mean, the horses? 
Emmett jumps up. He yells to the other outlaws. 
EMMETT Cover me! 
He runs in a mad zig-zag toward the gate of the horses' pen. 

EXT. RIM OF BOX CANYON - DAY Mal, firing rapidly, follows Emmett's route with precision. 
Mal's shots kick up dust inches from Emmett's flying feet. 
Once Emmett throws a glance upwards; Mal's cutting it pretty close.
Baxter slides in next to Dawson, who is thinking hard. 
BAXTER (indicating Emmett) Brave man. 
DAWSON I think there's only a couple of guys up there and this asshole's one of them. 
An outlaw is cowering beneath the wagon, but doesn't notice as Paden reaches out and secures the latch on the money box. 
Emmett throws open the make-shift gate and runs in among the horses, yelling and waving his arms. 
The horses begin to run out of the pen. 
AT THE CRATES. Dawson jumps up and orders his men forward. 
DAWSON Get that guy!
A line of outlaws rushes toward the pen, all the while firing up at the rim. 
Paden appears at a gallop from behind, pulling Emmett's horse beside him. 
A rope stretches from his saddlehorn to the strongbox bouncing along in the dirt. Paden comes through the line of outlaws firing and heads for the pen. A few of the outlaws make the mistake of closing the gap and aiming at Paden's back. 
The bouncing strongbox knocks them head over heels. 

Emmett leaps from a rock onto his passing horse, firing behind him.
He and Paden go down the trail in the midst of the outlaws' horses.
The strongbox careens after them. 
Mal and Conrad, mounted; are waiting as Emmett and Paden ride out of the mouth of the canyon.
Beyond them, the outlaws' horses scatter toward the horizon. Paden jumps off his horse and picks up the strongbox. 
IN THE ROCKS ABOVE THEM the Sentinel from the outlaw camp positions himself to fire at the men below.
EMMETT (to Mal) That was some idea of yours. 
EMMETT Next time you go in.

Paden is tying the strongbox to his saddlehorn when there is the loud 
CLICK of Conrad's rifle being cocked. He nervously points it at the others. 
CONRAD I knew it. Put that box on my horse. 
MAL Mister, you got a lot to learn about people. 
A SHOT rings out. 
Conrad takes it in the chest and flies off his horse. 
Now an amazing sight -- Emmett, Paden, and Mal all turn 
and fire at once. 
The Sentinel is really dead.


Words by Mark Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan

Pictures by John Bailey and Lawrence Kasdan

Silverado is available on DVD and Blu-Ray by Sony Home Video.

* What's amusing is they all fire simultaneously—I found the frame of it (I wonder how many "takes" that took?), but they "stand down" at different rates: Mal first, because he has the rifle and wants the perspective of two eyes to see the effect of the shot; Paden second, ready to fire again and seeing no further movement, lowers his arm, then glances over at...Emmett, with the shortest draw, who delays holstering until ab-so-lutely sure. I love little details like that.

** Mitigated somewhat by that in some shots you can clearly see the stunt-men's faces in the shot. That's something I've never had to contend with before.