Bruce Willis & James Garner were western legends in the 1988 movie Sunset

Scene from the 1988 movie Sunset

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Bruce Willis & James Garner played Tom Mix & Wyatt Earp in Sunset (1988)

Excerpted from a review in the Shreveport Journal (Shreveport, Louisana) May 5, 1988

In Blake Edwards’ “Sunset,” the title has a double meaning. It refers both to the waning of an era — Hollywood’s Golden Age in the ’20s — and the climactic sunset into which movie cowboy heroes dauntlessly ride.

There is also a double layer in the plot: a fanciful account of a meeting between Tom Mix (Bruce Willis) and Wyatt Earp (James Garner). And, in the film itself: It is both an affectionate valentine to the movies and a Raymond Chandler-esque murder mystery about the dark secrets of the guilty rich.

On top, there is the sweetness and light, loving recreations of Hollywood past, the candied glow of the backdrops. And underneath, a sense of rot and corruption — murder and venality swimming under the glamour.

Malcolm McDowell and James Garner in Sunset (1988)
Malcolm McDowell and James Garner in Sunset (1988)

ALSO SEE: James Garner’s ‘The Rockford Files’ TV show debuted in 1974

Bruce Willis is Tom Mix. James Garner is Wyatt Earp.

Two legends out to make a movie, solve a murder, and have a good ol’ time doing it.

Bruce Willis and James Garner star in the movie Sunset (1988)

Sunset trailer

Trailer for the 1988 big-screen release “Sunset,” starring Bruce Willis, James Garner, Malcolm McDowell, Mariel Hemingway & Kathleen Quinlan

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The real Tom Mix, and Bruce Willis as Tom MixThe real Tom Mix and Bruce Willis as Tom Mix

Excerpted from a review in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Texas) May 15, 1988

“The following story is true… give or take a lie or two.” That line appears at the beginning of director Blake Edwards’ new film, “Sunset.” The humorous disclaimer seems particularly apropos for a picture that portrays an imaginary meeting between legendary western hero Wyatt Earp (played by James Garner) and legendary western movie star Tom Mix (Bruce Willis), who team up to solve a murder in 1929 Hollywood.

Although Edwards’ film makes no bones about its fictional nature, its protagonists were real-life masters at the art of self-creation. In fact, Mix and Earp, whose names are practically generic when it comes to the terms “cowboy” and “marshal,” were mythmakers of almost Bunyanesque proportions.

“They phenomenally embellished their backgrounds,” said “Sunset” producer Tony Adams, “and we played on that. We used a lot of real things and interposed them with myth — which is what they did.”

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Bruce Willis and James Garner in the movie Sunset (1988)

Excerpted from a review in the St Joseph Gazette (St Joseph, Missouri) April 30, 1988

The premise of the film is that a movie studio hires Wyatt Earp (Garner) to be a technical consultant on a movie about his own life, a movie starring real-life cowboy hero Tom Mix (Willis). The cowboy star and the real cowboy hit it off, and soon they get mixed up in a Hollywood murder mystery.

As they solve that mystery, we see them travel through Hollywood of the late 1920s to the homes of a wealthy producer, to a famous (and historically real) bordello that features ladies of the night who looked like screen stars of the time (like Greta Garbo and Mae West) and to a climax set at the first Oscar ceremony.

FIND OUT MORE: How cowboy actor Tom Mix gained fame on a horse, and lost his life in a car

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