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Films >> Heaven's Gate (1980) >>

1) There is more. There is much more. It all adds up to a great deal less. This movie is $36 million thrown to the winds. It is the most scandalous cinematic waste I have ever seen, and remember, I've seen Paint Your Wagon. (Roger Ebert)

2) Heaven's Gate has, of course, become a notorious picture, a boondoggle that cost something like $36 million and was yanked out of its New York opening run after the critics ran gagging from the theater. (Roger Ebert)

3) Heaven’s Gate…fails so completely that you might suspect Mr. Cimino sold his soul to the Devil to obtain the success of The Deer Hunter, and the Devil has just come around to collect. (Vincent Canby)

4) Heaven’s Gate is something quite rare in movies these days—an unqualified disaster. (Vincent Canby)

5) He [Cimino] poetically underscores the events of his film with images like this time and again, making the denouement at once horribly shocking and inevitably obvious. (Jeremy Heilman)

6) Because of its ambition, the film is sometimes sloppy, but that sloppiness is forgivable because it’s the exalted, compelling kind. (Jeremy Heilman)

7) It [the final battle scene] is a triumph of planning and execution, and it was nothing short of obscene for the 1980 critics to trash this sequence. (Phil Hall)

8) This film is actually closer to how the West was won: a realm of genuine injustice where Eastern money influences bullied their way in a semi-lawless environment. (Phil Hall)

9) “Cattle Thieves Beware!” (the note pinned to Champion’s chest after his murder at the K.C. Ranch)

10) “He [Wolcott] is known as the meanest man alive in this world,” wrote one detractor who also flatly declared, “Wolcott is a thief.” When Wolcott was removed as U.S. marshal of Wyoming Territory, Governor John M. Thayer declared that he had become “offensive to almost the whole people.” (O’Neal 3)

11) Wyoming cattlemen such as Billy Irvine, John Clay, Moreton Frewen, and Frank Wolcott enjoyed a heady existence. Like medieval nobles they controlled vast domains, and like medieval nobles they rode horseback, booted and spurred, across their land. (O’Neal 14)

12) I went away to Europe for a long holiday, and the matter left my mind…I emphasize this because latterly I was accused of having planned and instigated the famous raid into Johnson County, whereas I was innocent as an unborn babe. (John Clay, former president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association; Johnson 53)

13) Undoubtedly, the cattlemen overstepped their legal rights, and their action directly challenged the authority of established legal agencies. Farmers had entered the county in considerable numbers, however, thus reducing the amount of range available for ranching activities. Some very probably only played at farming, that being a useful front to cover their thievery. Beyond this, the story becomes involved in controversy. (Atherton 53)

14) Just in case you do not know what a “DAISY LIST” is, or was, It has nothing in the world to do with “he loves me, he loves me not.” Every petal on this daisy list was a “he loves me not” petal, in fact he loves me so little he is even apt to kill me. (Gage, Is 63)

15) If Wolcott had used the words that must have been resting right on the tip of his tongue, it had to be somewhat like this—“Look, Colonel, I have never been so glad to see anyone in my life. We have large amounts of ammunition left, but much smaller amounts of ambition left. The only thing of which there is even less is food, and matters are made even worse because this bunch of untrained, undisciplined clods I command are as apt to tell me to go to hell, as to obey an order.” (Gage, Ain’t 61-62)

16) At last we all stood in the gulch and looked down at the dead rustler—the nerviest man I ever knew, and one of the best. He was the kind of man that never backed down from danger of any kind, never started a scrap, and never went back on a friend. That is the best I know to say for a man. (Baber 134)

17) It was not a war in the sense of pitched battles between masses of men. The invasion was the culmination of another kind of conflict, economic and savagely personal, between the few who had and were determined to keep and the many who wanted their share, a conflict which had been going on with mounting ugliness for six years. It was a war of the shot in the back from ambush on a lonely road under a pitiless sky, of the sudden descent by a little party of armed men and a body left dangling from a tree; a war in which the other side fought back with the rustler’s weapons, the rope and the running iron, and the snarling dispute over who began it will never be settled. (Smith xii)

18) It [Heaven's Gate] should be preserved in cold storage as an eternal reminder of what can happen when a witless wonder is handed a blank check by studio executives too in awe of "genius" to assert common sense. (Wells)