Greatest Film Scenes
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Red Rock West (1993)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Red Rock West (1993)

In co-writer and director John Dahl's overlooked neo-noir crime thriller - similar to the works of the Coen Brothers and David Lynch (and Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997)):

  • the film followed the unfortunate wanderings of hang-dog, itinerant loser/drifter Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage); he was broke and unemployed after serving in the Marines in Vietnam and still suffering from a serious knee injury. After driving 1,200 miles from Texas to Wyoming in his run-down Cadillac, he was rejected from an oil drilling job due to his injury (a "f--ked up leg")
  • at a bar in dusty Red Rock, Wyoming, he spoke to the local bartender-owner Wayne Brown (J.T. Walsh) who assumed, in a case of mistaken identity, that he was "Lyle, from Dallas" (a professional hitman hired by Wayne to eliminate his adulterous wife for a total of $10,000, with half paid upfront) - "You are here for the job, aren't you?"
  • without correcting Wayne, Michael dumbly accepted a down-payment of $5,000 to be a hired killer and murder Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle); Wayne even suggested how to commit the murder: "I think the, uh, best way to do this is to make it look like a, uh, simple burglary. Just go out to the house, break in and uh, mess the place up a little, you know? Uh, not too much, just enough. And uh, then when she, uh, when she comes in, you, uh - Well, you know what to do."
  • in addition, Suzanne appeared to be having an affair with beefy ranch hand Kurt (Dale Gibson) living on the ranch property in a trailer
  • in the first of many twisting plot developments, Michael (identifying himself as 'Lyle') met up with femme fatale Suzanne at her ranch, where he revealed to her the murder plot against her life: "I don't know how to tell you this. But your husband, Wayne, he, uh, plans to have you murdered...He paid me to do it." She responded about the unfortunate direction of her marriage: "Have you ever been married, Lyle? Well, it does strange things to people."
  • and then to his surprise, she offered him double the money if he would kill her husband: "Suppose I double his offer and you do something for me...Take care of Wayne"; he promptly accepted her offer, and then (before driving off) wrote a letter to Red Rock's Sheriff, to be mailed -- warning of the two plots of the married couple to kill each other: ("Wayne Brown may have hired a killer to murder his wife. She is likely to do the same. Please talk to them before someone gets hurt...")
  • as in any plot-twisting story, a number of further developments happened in rapid succession
  • as Michael was driving away from town during a blinding night thunderstorm, he accidentally ran over ranch-hand Kurt standing in the middle of the road (next to his broken-down pickup truck); after transporting Kurt to Red Rock County Hospital's ER, it was discovered that he had been shot twice in the stomach before the car injury - a possible "attempted homicide" [Note: It was later surmised, incorrectly, that Wayne shot Kurt, because the ranch hand knew of Wayne's former crimes and was blackmailing him]
  • in the hospital, the town's Sheriff arrived and was revealed to be Wayne, who now knew of Michael's duplicity!; the Sheriff decided to take Michael to the station, although Michael's motivation in Kurt's shooting was dubious, as noted by one of the Sheriff's deputies: " doesn't make much sense he'd shoot him, then bring him to the hospital, does it?"
  • after a struggle with Wayne, Michael fled from town - and as he hitchhiked away, he was almost hit in the middle of the road - by the arrival of the real "Lyle from Dallas" (Dennis Hopper)
  • Michael escaped from Lyle and returned to Suzanne to warn her about the 'real' Lyle; they conspired together to flee to Mexico; the two spent the night together (and had sex) in a Comfort Inn motel, where both of them fantasized about the idyllic place for escape: "We could go there together. Get a little house by the ocean. Drink margaritas all day. Watch the sunset. And take siestas together. Morning, noon, and night"

Sex and Fantasies About Mexico with Suzanne Before Plotting to Escape From Town Together


Sheriff Wayne Jailed by His Own Deputies
  • before leaving town the next morning because the two needed cash, Michael and Suzanne went to Wayne's bar office to steal money from his safe, but when they opened the safe, it was empty; they listened from inside the closet as Wayne was confronted by his deputies, who informed him that an FBI wanted flyer in Kurt's possessions (clothing) displayed a picture of both Suzanne and Wayne, who had stolen $1.9 million from an Illinois steel mill - their aliases were Ann and Kevin McCord; the two were embezzling crooks who had previously stolen almost $2 million
  • also, Michael's letter had arrived in the mail to incriminate Wayne in the murder-for-hire plot; deputies arrested Wayne and jailed him
  • hired hit-man Lyle captured both Suzanne and Michael in Wayne's office, and explained to Michael how Suzanne had confessed to him: "Did you know that these two were a couple of f--kin' crooks?...Now, Suzie here says that Wayne was a bookkeeper in a steel mill in Illinois and he figured out how to walk out of that plant with $2 million dollars. And she says that there's half a million layin' around somewhere, but that Wayne is the only one that knows where it is. Now, is that true?"; Lyle released Wayne from his jail cell, handcuffed him, and all the principal characters drove to a remote cemetery as night fell, to dig up the money
  • during a violent confrontation at the cemetery where Wayne dug up the $500,000 of missing money, Lyle threw a switchblade knife into Wayne's neck and seriously wounded him, after which Lyle was impaled in the back on a sword sticking out of a grave marker-statue, and then Suzanne finished Lyle off by shooting him dead; she also bashed Wayne in the head with the bag of cash before running off; she was shown to be the real conniving murderess who was willing to kill others to abscond with the money
  • as Michael and Suzanne escaped on a passing freight train with the bag of money, she betrayed him by wielding a gun at him; he realized her duplicitous intentions: "I guess this means you'll be going to Mexico by yourself, huh?"
  • she confessed that she had shot blackmailing ranch hand Kurt who had found out about her criminal past - and had intended to kill him: ("He found out about me. He wanted my money"); Michael knew that she would have eliminated him also when she pulled the trigger, but the gun was empty; she proposed to split the money half and half, but disgusted with her, Michael scattered the money from the open train door
  • after she called Michael a "stupid son-of-a-bitch", he tossed her off too: ("You want it? Go get it!"); she was about to be promptly arrested by Wayne's deputies who drove up behind her; Michael stuffed one remaining wad of bills in his pocket and bid goodbye to the town forever: "Adios, Red Rock"

About to Be Arrested

"Adios, Red Rock"

Drifter Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage)

Bartender-Owner Wayne Brown (J. T. Walsh)

Wayne's Adulterous Wife Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle)

Michael's Incriminating Letter Mailed to Sheriff

Ranch-Hand Kurt (Suzanne's Lover) Run Down (He Had Already Been Shot!)

The Sheriff is Wayne!

"Lyle from Dallas" (Dennis Hopper)

In the Cemetery, Wayne Seriously Wounded by Lyle's Knife in His Neck

Lyle Impaled, and Then Shot to Death by Suzanne

Suzanne Threatening Michael on Train During Their Escape


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