The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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IMDb: 7.3
It's a sunny afternoon in the Wild West  and Buster Scruggs rides his horse through   isolated lands. He comes off as a cheerful  singing cowboy but the truth is, he's the   most dangerous gunman in the area and there's  a hefty reward on his head. During his travels,   he finds a cantina where he stops to have a drink;  however the barman refuses to sell whiskey to him   because it's a banned drink and therefore only  outlaws will be served. Buster tries to explain   he shouldn't be judged based on his clean looks  and chirpy demeanor because he's an outlaw too,   but nobody believes him, and a cowboy is even  ready to fight in order to kick him out. This   cowboy ends up quickly regretting underestimating  his enemy because Buster is incredibly fast and   draws his gun in a second to shoot every single  person in the cantina. Afterward, Buster travels a   little bit longer until he arrives at Frenchman's  Gulch, a town he's never visited before. His first   stop is the local saloon, where he must leave  all his weapons at the door to comply with the   no firearms policy. Then, he joins a game of poker  at the nearest table under the condition he picks   up the hand left by the player that just left.  Unfortunately when Buster checks the cards he   discovers the last player left because he had the  infamous dead man's hand and refuses to play it,   causing the ire of the other players, especially  the scary Joe. Thinking he's above the rules,   Joe pulls out his hidden gun to threaten Buster,  but he quickly defends himself by kicking a loose   plank on the table to hit the gun and make it  turn again its master, instantly killing Joe. This   incident makes thick tension take over the saloon,  so Buster starts singing a song he makes up on   the spot about Joe, inspiring everyone to sing  and dance along. Their cheerful fun is suddenly   interrupted by Joe's brother, who has found out  what happened and challenges Buster to a duel to   get revenge. Once again, Buster proves he's the  fastest gunman in the area and, after expertly   shooting each of the man's fingers, he finally  kills him by looking at him in the mirror just   to show off. Buster is feeling smug and confident  as usual when suddenly, another singing cowboy   arrives in town: it's The Kid, who also challenges  Buster to a duel. This encounter is even faster   than the last one, but this time it's Buster who  dies because he finally has found someone faster   than him. As his soul leaves the mortal realm,  Buster admits he should've seen it coming because   you can't be the top dog forever, and even sings  along to The Kid's song. Meanwhile in New Mexico,   a young cowboy finds an isolated bank and  tries to rob it. The bank teller pretends to   collaborate and bends over to grab the money, but  actually he's moving to shoot his hidden weapons   as a distraction before running away. The cowboy  manages to dodge the shots and wastes no time in   grabbing the money from the cash box, but as soon  as he rushes out, the teller opens fire on him   and forces him to hide behind a well. The cowboy  tries to shoot back yet his efforts are pointless:   the banker has covered his body with pots and  pans that reflect all the bullets. Thanks to   this extra protection, the teller manages to come  close enough to knock the cowboy out. When the   cowboy wakes up hours later, he finds himself  tied to a tree and his hands tied to the saddle   of his horse. It turns out a posse has already  found him guilty and sentenced him to death,   so this is the cowboy's chance to say his final  words. Before the cowboy can say anything though,   they're ambushed by a bunch of Comanche warriors  who quickly kill the whole posse yet leave the   cowboy on his horse, thinking it would be funny  for him to suffer slowly. The cowboy spends a   few hours on his horse trying his best to keep  the animal from moving too far and triggering   his death. Eventually the cowboy finally gets  lucky and is found by a drover, who frees him   by shooting the rope and allows him to ride  with him for safety. Not even an hour passes   before the cowboy discovers he isn't as lucky as  he thought: the drover is actually a rustler and   when another posse finds them he rides away while  the cowboy gets arrested again. Moments later,   the cowboy is taken to town where he's found  guilty by the judge and sent to the gallows. While   waiting for the end, he concentrates on looking  at a young woman in the crowd so the last thing   he sees before death can be a beautiful sight.  Not far from there, an aging impresario travels   with Harrison, a young man with no arms or legs  but with a very beautiful voice that he uses to   recite classics from Shakespeare and Lincoln among  others. The wagon they travel in becomes a stage   every time they stop in a town, and while Harrison  recites his classics, the impresario collects   money from the audience. He's also in charge  of feeding Harrison, putting on his make-up,   and even helping him relieve himself. It's a very  frustrating and sad life, and the impresario gets   more tired of Harrison every day. When they visit  bawdy houses, the impresario doesn't even bother   to pay for a girl for Harrison too, he leaves him  in the same room and turns him around while he has   his own fun, this means Harrison still has to hear  everything. The further they travel around remote   mountain towns, the less interested the audiences  are in their little show and they barely make any   money. One evening, the impresario notices their  audience is tiny because a different wagon has   everyone's attention: the crow is cheering  for a chicken that can do basic addition and   subtraction by pecking at some painted numbers.  Seeing an opportunity, the impresario decides to   buy the chicken, and he takes care of it  with as much care as he offers Harrison,   who is starting to get worried about what comes  next. The next day, the impresario stops the wagon   by a bridge and tests the depth of the river that  runs underneath by dropping a large stone into the   water. The results are exactly what he needs, and  moments later the impresario is back on the road   with only the chicken as a passenger in the wagon  because Harrison has been pushed into the river as   well. Speaking of rivers, there's one running down  a mountain where a grizzled prospector has arrived   to search for gold. At first his pan only picks up  tiny gold specks, but by counting the amount each   time the prospector follows the trail of where he  should be digging to find the source. The man even   makes camp next to the river and he survives by  fishing and stealing eggs from birds' nests. After   many days of digging small holes, the prospector  manages to triangulate the source and begins   digging deeper. His calculations turn out to be  perfect and he finally gets to find a large gold   vein that will make him rich, but unfortunately  there's no time to celebrate: a young man that   has been trailing the prospector comes closer and  shoots him. After making a cigarette to celebrate,   the young man jumps in the hole to move the  body only to get ambushed by the prospector,   who had been only pretending to be dead. The old  man wrestles the guy for his gun and kills him,   then he checks his body and confirms it was a  clean shot: it came out through his back and   didn't hit anything important. After bandaging the  wound, the prospector finishes mining the gold,   buries the young man in the hole, and leaves  the valley on a horse carrying his new fortune.   In the meantime, siblings Alice and Gilbert  have joined a wagon train that is crossing   the Oregon Trail. Gilbert isn't exactly a good  businessman, but he claims he's contacted a new   business partner that is willing to marry  his sister when they make it to Oregon.   Traveling with them is Gilbert's dog President  Pierce, who is considered extremely annoying   by the rest of the travelers because of his  constant barking. Shortly after the trip begins,   Gilbert goes through a violent coughing  fit and dies of what seems to be cholera.   The wagon train's leaders Billy and Arthur help  Alice bury him after they ask her if she wants   to keep traveling with them or she'll go back  home. Realizing she has nothing to return to,   Alice accepts to stay with them to find her luck  in Oregon. The next day, Alice receives more bad   news: the boy Gilbert hired to lead their wagon  claims he was promised a wage of $400 and expects   the first half to be paid when they reach the  halfway point. Alice doesn't have money and if   her brother did have any, it was left in his coat,  which is now buried with him. It's too far away to   go back now, so Alice asks Arthur and Billy for  advice, and the men point out the wage is insane,   definitely higher than usual. Alice thinks it's  Gilbert's fault for being an awful businessman,   but Billy thinks the boy may be lying, thus he  advises her to ignore him for now and when they   make it to the halfway point, he'll try to  scare him into confessing the truth. Since   President Pierce keeps being complained about and  Alice doesn't want to take responsibility for him   because he's not hers, Gilbert also helps hers to  get rid of the dog by taking him to the middle of   the valley and scaring him off with a shot at the  sky. The trip continues without any trouble, and   Alice and Billy get to share some time together,  discovering they agree on many philosophies. When   the hired boy asks for confirmation of his  pay, Billy tries to talk to him and fails,   so he offers Alice an alternative: since  he's been thinking about retiring from   the wagon train for a while now, he asks  Alice to marry him, that way he can assume   Gilbert's debt and build a home with a proper  family. Alice is quite shocked to hear this,   but she's grown fond of Billy too and accepts the  proposal. A few days later, Arthur worries about   fresh footprints found in the area and checks on  his travelers only to discover Alice is missing.   It turns out she heard President Pierce nearby  and went to watch him bark at some prairie dogs,   leaving the wagon train further than she realized.  Arthur finds her and tries to bring her back as   quickly as possible, but sadly they aren't fast  enough and they get ambushed by a Native American   party. Since he has two weapons, Arthur uses one  to defend himself and gives the other to Alice,   urging her to end things for herself if he  gets killed because death is preferable to   be captured by the Natives, who would put her  through terrible, painful punishments. Arthur   is actually quite a skilled gunman and manages  to scare the Natives away with precise shots,   but when he thinks everything is over, a warrior  takes him by surprise and makes him fall with a   quick hit. Pretending to be unconscious, Arthur  waits for the Native American to come closer and   shoots him before returning to Alice's side only  to find out the worst news: she also thought he   was dead and used the pistol exactly like he told  her to. After covering her with his coat, Arthur   starts making his way back to the wagon train  together with President Pierce while wondering   what he's gonna tell Billy. On a different road,  five people ride in a stagecoach to Fort Morgan.   After singing for most of the ride, which  annoys everyone aboard, Thigpen explains he   and his partner Clarence often travel this route  while ferrying cargo, alluding to something on   the roof of the coach without specifying what it  is. Now that Thigpen has finally stopped singing,   a conversation begins among the travelers,  prompting the fur trapper to talk about his past   relationship with a Hunkpapa woman that flourished  even if they couldn't speak each other's language   because he thinks all people are alike in their  basic needs. Lady Betjeman, a devout Christian,   is offended by this idea and reminds everyone  there are only two kinds of people, the good and   the sinning. This triggers an argument about human  nature that is also joined by Frenchman René,   but Thigpen and Clarence only make a comment here  and there, preferring to watch with amusement.   When René questions if Lady Betjeman has stayed  loyal to her husband while living apart for a   couple of years, Lady Betjeman's so indignant that  she becomes apoplectic. Putting his head out the   window, René tries to ask the driver to stop the  coach to no avail, prompting Thigpen to explain   that the company's policy doesn't allow the coach  to stop for any reason. To calm Lady Betjeman   down, Clarence decides to sing a bittersweet folk  song, which successfully helps the woman but also   makes Thigpen cry. Curious about these mysterious  men, the trapper makes them explain what exactly   is their business, and Thigpen reveals they're  bounty hunters. Their teamwork is foolproof:   Thigpen distracts their target with stories  while Clarence quickly "thumps" them. Thigpen   also confesses he loves watching them die because  there's something beautiful in their targets'   expressions. Hearing this obviously creeps out  the other three passengers, who are now afraid   of what awaits them at their destination.  Once the coach makes it to Fort Morgan,   Thigpen and Clarence grab their cargo, which  turns out to be a body, and enter the hotel where   everyone is staying. René, Lady Betjeman,  and the trapper take longer to disembark,   feeling wary and scared, but eventually they enter  the hotel too and René closes the door behind them   after watching the coach leave, realizing  there won't be a way out if they need it.
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