Here’s a piece of news that has us instantly ready to saddle up and ride: Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz and Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe will star side-by-side in an upcoming western movie from none other than Walter Hill, director of The Warriors, Hard Times and 48 Hours. The film, titled Dead For a Dollar, sounds like it has major spaghetti western influences, in the vein of classic works from Sergio Leone.
Of course, comparisons to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained will also be hard to avoid, because this film will again see the wonderful Waltz playing a principled bounty hunter. In Tarantino’s film, Waltz won his second Oscar for playing bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Dafoe, meanwhile, will be playing “expatriate American Joe Cribbens” in this tale set in Mexico, an outlaw and nemesis of Waltz’s character, who steps between him and his goal. Says the official synopsis:
Walter Hill will write and direct the feature, which is set in New Mexico Territory, Chihuahua, in 1897. The story will follow Max Borlund (Waltz), a famed bounty hunter, hired to find and return Rachel Price, the politically progressive wife of Nathan Price, a successful Santa Fe businessman. Max is told she has been kidnapped by an African American army deserter, Elijah Jones, and is being held for ransom in Mexico. When Max goes south of the border he soon runs across his sworn enemy, expatriate American Joe Cribbens (Dafoe), a professional gambler, sometime outlaw, who Max had tracked down and sent to prison years before.
Hill hasn’t exactly been prolific in recent memory, having directed only three films in the last 20 years: 2002’s Undisputed, 2012’s Bullet to the Head, and 2016’s The Assignment. It seems safe to say that everyone involved will likely be hoping that Hill can reach into his bag of tricks and pull out something reminiscent of his ‘70s and ‘80s classics. The film will be for sale this week at Cannes.
“We are extremely pleased to be working with the legendary Walter Hill who has created a Western with contemporary themes and modern feeling characters,” said Myriad Pictures President and CEO Kirk D’Amico. “Award-winning actors Christoph Waltz and Willem Dafoe will embody the extraordinary leading roles which are destined for cinematic history.”
We’ll believe the “cinematic history” line when we see it, but starting off with Waltz and Dafoe is an excellent position to be in. Waltz’s upcoming projects include the much-delayed Bond feature No Time to Die, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and Jeffrey Walker’s The Portable Door. Dafoe also has a busy schedule, including del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, Robert Eggers’ The Northman, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, indicative of just how in-demand the actor is. Oddly, both stars also appear in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, although it’s safe to say that their meeting in Dead For a Dollar will likely feel quite a bit different.