Sunset (1988) starring Bruce Willis, James Garner, Malcolm McDowell, Mariel Hemingway, Kathleen Quinlan, Jennifer Edwards, Patricia Hodge directed by Blake Edwards Movie Review

Sunset (1988)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Bruce Willis in Sunset (1988)

Wyatt in the Mix

It's 1929 and Hollywood is a changing with the introduction of the talkies. Western star Tom Mix (Bruce Willis - Blind Date) who having made a name for himself by playing himself in a series of movies is also facing change as he is asked to star in a new western called "The Lawman" about the legendary Wyatt Earp (James Garner - Victor Victoria) as the lawman rather than himself. Whilst resistant Tom agrees which sees him working alongside the real Earp who is hired as a technical advisor. Whilst completely different with Mix being a flamboyant showman whilst Earp is more reserved they become friends and when there is a murder at a Club the two end up working together to try and solve it.

Here is my journey through "Sunset"; as a fan of old westerns the opening is terrific as we witness Tom coming to the rescue of a stagecoach. It is a scene from a movie being shot and is done in that old fashioned way as we watch Tom jump on the moving stagecoach and then jump in between the horses till he eventually stops them. There is something simply exciting about watching a stunt man doing his job and there is something entertaining about this old western standard being recreated.

James Garner in Sunset (1988)

This then evolves when Wyatt Earp shows up and we have the real west meeting the glitzy Hollywood version of the west with Tom in a flashy white suit and large hat whilst Earp is sombrely dressed in Black with a much smaller but normal sized hat. Again it has an appeal to those who have watched and often laughed at those old westerns with flamboyantly dressed heroes. But it also gives us the set up of the unlikely buddies as Mix and Earp end up working together.

Whilst all of this is going on we are painted a picture of Hollywood from a bygone era as we are taken behind the scenes. That ranges from walking on a busy lot as we see giant fans and props shifted around to meeting a studio boss who thinks he can boss Earp around from his office. All of which eventually leads to a crime story, not a western crime story but one of those old Hollywood detective movie crime stories where we have dangerous women and nefarious business men.

Now the mix makes for an entertaining movie mainly thanks to the wonderful chemistry between Willis and Garner who spark off of each other. And as I said the whole recreation of the bygone era from the studio to the old fashioned stunts is enjoyable. But ironically when it came to the actual crime/ detective part it started to lose me, the partnership of Willis and Garner kept me watching but the actual solving of the crime was too ordinary because of the use of the bygone stereotypes.

What this all boils down to is that "Sunset" is a 2 out of 3 isn't bad movie as whilst the recreation of old Hollywood was great and the partnership of Willis and Garner was gold the actual crime story suffered because it was too ordinary and reliant on Hollywood stereotypes.