“There’s Many a Slip ‘Twixt the Cup and the Lip”: After Over Thirty Years, “Young Guns III” Gets Ready to Saddle Up

This is an article I’ve been writing in one form or another since the summer of 1990 after attending the opening day of the western film Young Guns II. For you see Dear and Constant Readers, I was one of those teenage boys who lived and breathed the two part Young Guns saga. Somewhere in my vast archive of actual physical photographs (y’know, the kind that don’t require a cell phone or a laptop to look at) there exists a photo of ye writer in that fabled year of ’90 sitting on my mother’s couch in upstate New York eyeing a copy of a Billy the Kid biography, no doubt right before or immediately after attending that Young Guns II showing. Hey, life was good: I had a full head of hair, River Phoenix was alive and well and the western genre was my new best friend. As I said, I was that peculiar breed of teenage boys who existed for those particular flicks…

 For those not in the know, the John Fusco written Young Guns films were a sort of rock and roll western that featured some of the best young actors of the late 1980s and early 90s plying their craft; Movieline Magazine dubbed these up and coming thespians as Young Hollywood: Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Christian Slater, William Ruck and Balthazar Getty were the access drug for Generation X and their discovery of the western genre, rescuing it from the evil clutches of countless Wagon Train and Rawhide reruns that our parents subjected us to. Estevez essayed the real-life part of William H. Bonney, A.K.A. Billy the Kid with a glee and an abandon that was infectious. The other guys were his band of Regulators, dedicated to bringing to justice the ne’er-do-well’s responsible for the murder of their employer, John Tunstall and even now, lo these many years later, I can still recite verbatim the Lou Diamond Phillips’ soliloquy from the original film (“AND IT MEANS NOTHING TO ME?”) along with Casey Siemaszko’s dissertation on dogs and pigs (“Did you know pigs is as smart as dogs?”). Who needed William Shakespeare when you had John Fusco dispensing these gold nuggets of wisdom? And now, after countless years of praying to the Cinema Gods, it appears as if a third Young Guns film is nigh upon us, according to those pistoleers and knife-smiths over at SCREENRANT.

 Keeper and chronicler of all things in the Young Guns universe – the above mentioned John Fusco – took to Twitter to tease turning the Young Guns saga into a proper epic with the addition of a new story continuing the misadventures of Billy the Kid, with series star Emilio Estevez coming along for the ride.

 Posting a mockup of a film poster for the third entry titled Young Guns III Alias: Billy the Kid (a tip of the old Irish hat to a line from Young Guns II), Fusco said that “Emilio Estevez and I are excited to be collaborating again on this continuation of the Billy the Kid saga – and you’re going to love where it goes.” The poster brandies a tagline that reads “Some Legends Never Die.” That sound you hear right now is ye olde scribe drooling uncontrollably. AHEM.

 Let the speculation begin, as Fusco tagged former Regulators Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips and Christian Slater in his message. All three of the characters these actors portrayed in the first two Young Guns films were – SPOILER ALERT – killed off, seemingly making it all but impossible for a return for a third movie. Phillips might be the easy character to work back into the fold, at least in a mystical/supernatural sense: His character of Jose Chavez y Chavez was a Mexican Indian depicted as a medicine man or shaman in the two films, so a return for him – in a dream sequence? – is feasible. And hey, if Martin Scorsese can de-age Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in The Irishman, then who’s to say that Sutherland and Slater can’t go that route, too?

 The other talent tagged in Fusco’s message were Vincent D’Onofrio, Harry Knowles, Chris Pratt and Warren G, leading some to speculate that the first three might have some sort of acting roles in the new film, while Warren G is being speculated as a possible musical contributor to the project.

 No more details, but it should be noted that with the popularity of 80s themed projects such as Stranger Things, Coming to America, Cobra Kai, Ghostbusters and Bill & Ted, a third Young Guns film actually seems timely. The film series more than has its following, with no less of an acting heavyweight as Timothy Olyphant saying at one time that he harbored a desire to act in a Young Guns III. In an altogether ‘round-about way, Olyphant got his wish with his recent role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (also known around my house as “the poor man’s Young Guns III”).

 As for me and my odd Young Guns predilection: If not for Fusco, Estevez and Co. and directors Christopher Cain and Geoff Murphy respectively, I doubt I would have been as easily led into the theater to see other western classics such as The Unforgiven, Open Range or Tombstone, nor crack open the Blu-rays for High Noon, Stagecoach or Shane. Young Guns made it cool again to be into westerns and I’ve proudly worn my “I’m a pugilist” lapel button since 1988.

 Vents is attempting to reach out to John Fusco for a follow-up on this breaking news and we’ll endeavor to bring any updates to you just as soon as we can.

About Ryan Vandergriff

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