Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film starring, directed, and produced by Clint Eastwood, and written by David Webb Peoples. The film tells the story of William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job, years after he had turned to farming. The film co-stars Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris.
Unforgiven grossed over $159 million on a budget of $14.4 million and received widespread critical acclaim, with praise for the acting (particularly from Eastwood and Hackman), directing, editing, themes and cinematography. The film won four Academy Awards: Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood, Best Supporting Actor for Hackman, and Best Film Editing for Joel Cox. Eastwood was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, but he lost to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman. The film was the third Western to win Best Picture, following Cimarron (1931) and Dances with Wolves (1990). Eastwood dedicated the film to directors and mentors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel.
In 2004, Unforgiven was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The film was remade into a 2013 Japanese film, also titled Unforgiven, which stars Ken Watanabe and changes the setting to the early Meiji era in Japan. Eastwood has long asserted that the film would be his last traditional Western, concerned that any future projects would simply rehash previous plotlines or imitate someone else's work.
Plot - In 1881, in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, a cowboy—Quick Mike—slashes prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald's face with a knife, permanently disfiguring her, after she laughs at his small penis. As punishment, sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett orders Mike and his associate who was with him at the brothel, David "Davey" Bunting, to turn over several of their horses to her employer, Skinny DuBois, for his loss of revenue. Outraged, the prostitutes offer a $1,000 bounty for the cowboys' deaths.
In Hodgeman County, Kansas, a boastful young man calling himself the "Schofield Kid" visits Will Munny's hog farm, claiming to be an experienced bounty hunter looking for help pursuing the cowboys. Formerly a notorious outlaw and murderer, Will is now a repentant widower raising two children. After initially refusing to help, Will realizes that his farm is failing and that his children's future is in jeopardy. He recruits his friend Ned Logan, another retired outlaw, and they catch up with the Kid, who they discover is severely near-sighted.
Back in Big Whiskey, British-born gunfighter "English" Bob, an old acquaintance and rival of Little Bill, seeks the bounty. He arrives in town with his biographer W. W. Beauchamp, who naively believes Bob's exaggerated tales. Enforcing the town's anti-gun law, Little Bill and his deputies disarm Bob, and the sheriff beats him savagely to discourage others from attempting to claim the bounty. Little Bill humiliates Bob and banishes him from town the next morning, but Beauchamp stays out of a fascination with the sheriff, who debunks many of the romantic notions Beauchamp has about the Wild West. Little Bill explains to Beauchamp that the best attribute for a gunslinger is to be cool-headed under fire, rather than to have the quickest draw, and to always kill the best shooter first.
Will, Ned and the Kid arrive in town during a rainstorm and head to Skinny's saloon. While Ned and the Kid meet with the prostitutes upstairs, Little Bill confronts a feverish Will. Not realizing Will's identity but correctly guessing that he wants the bounty, Bill confiscates his pistol and beats him. Ned and the Kid escape through a back window and take Will to an unoccupied barn outside of town, where they nurse him back to health. A few days later the trio ambush Davey. After missing Davey and hitting his horse, Ned falters and Will shoots Davey instead. Ned decides to quit and sets off back to Kansas.
Ned is later captured and flogged to death by Little Bill while trying to learn the whereabouts of Will and the Kid. Will takes the Kid with him to the cowboys' ranch, directing him to ambush Quick Mike in the outhouse and shoot him. After they escape, a distraught Kid drunkenly confesses he had never killed anyone before and is overcome with remorse. A prostitute arrives with the reward and tells them about Ned's fate. Shocked by the news, Will begins drinking and demands the Kid's revolver. The Kid hands it over, saying that he no longer wants to be a killer, and Will sends him back to Kansas to distribute the reward.
That night, Will finds Ned's corpse displayed in a coffin outside Skinny's saloon as a warning to bounty hunters. Inside, Little Bill and his deputies are organizing a posse. Will walks in alone brandishing a shotgun and kills Skinny for displaying Ned's corpse. He then takes aim at Little Bill, only for the shotgun to misfire. In the ensuing gunfight Will uses the revolver to wound Little Bill and four deputies. He then orders the rest of the posse out. Beauchamp lingers briefly to ask how Will survived; Will replies that it was luck and scares him away. Little Bill tries and fails to take another shot while lying on the floor, then bemoans his fate and curses Will, who shoots him dead. As he leaves Big Whiskey, Will warns the townsfolk that he will return if Ned is not buried properly or if any more prostitutes are harmed.
A closing title card states that Will's mother-in-law found his farm abandoned years later, Will having possibly moved to San Francisco, and she remained at a loss to understand why her daughter married a notorious outlaw and murderer.