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A 1994 Western directed by Jonathan Kaplan, about four prostitutes — Cody (Madeleine Stowe), Anita (Mary Stuart Masterson), Eileen (Andie MacDowell), and Lily (Drew Barrymore) — who go the run after Cody kills an abusive customer who was hurting Anita.


Tropes:

  • Action Girl: While all four of the girls qualify to some extent, it's especially the case for Cody. Before she fell into prostitution she was an outlaw who rode with Kid Jarrett's gang, and is the best gunfighter of the group.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Lily is the only one of the four without a love interestnote  or who shows any interest in the men they come across, and frequently expresses her annoyance with Eileen's flirtations with William. She also playfully flirts with Eileen herself, and takes it the hardest when she, Cody, and Anita ride out and leave him behind at the end of the film.
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  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played with. All of the protagonists spend a considerable time dirty and mussed from the trail. Additionally, Cody has a number of old scars on her back, heavily implied to have been the result of Jarrett having whipped her in the past, and receives some new ones after he does it again. However none of them take a disfiguring injury anywhere that's normally visible.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Eileen finds love with William and agrees to settle down with him, as well as fulfilling one of her life's dreams by getting a "rich husband" (courtesy of the financial windfall of the shootout with Jarrett, which they share). However McCoy is killed and Cody can't stay in Texas because of the price on her head, while Anita's claim in Oregon is worthless because of her husband's death. Cody, Anita, and Lily ride out to make their way north to the Klondike, knowing they may never see Eileen again.
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  • But Now I Must Go: Cody, Ania, and Lily ride on to follow-up on McCoy's claim in the Klondike at the end, while Eileen remains behind to start her new life with William.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: McCoy wants to kill Frank Jarrett, but they need him alive as a bargaining chip to get Lily back. Frank eventually pushes him too far, and McCoy guns him down.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Lily is the first to ride after the wagon when a rattlesnake spooks the horses in a daring attempt to regain control of the team, and later in the film she mentions to Kid that her father was a legendary show rider. Lily herself then uses some fancy trick riding during the final shoot-out to shield herself from gunfire.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Kid puts McCoy through the wringer after he's captured trying to single-handedly rescue Lily.
  • Cool Big Sis: It's unclear whether she's the eldest, (Andie MacDowell was a year older than Madeleine Stowe) but Cody takes this role on for the others. She's the one that takes the lead, and goes Mama Bear when one of the girls are in danger.
  • Damsel in Distress: Cody, Eileen, and Lily all spend time in need of aid. Cody is being dragged by a lynch mob to be hanged, and later is taken by Jarrett and raped. Eileen gets caught by the Marshall when the girls try to flee after Kid Jarrett's robbery. Lily is kidnapped by Jarrett. Cody is saved by the other girls in the first case, and in the second McCoy finds her riding alone in the desert and in desperate need of medical attention (it's unclear whether she escaped or Jarrett let her go after he finished with her). Eileen starts to work her charms on William, and after a failed rescue by Anita and Lily convinces him to let her go. Lily is rescued by McCoy, who becomes a Distressed Dude as a result when he's caught.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • All of the girls came from difficult backgrounds even before they joined the brothel in Echo City:
      • Cody formerly rode with Kid Jarrett's gang and spent time as his lover. It's revealed in her Toplessness from the Back scene when she confronts McCoy spying on the girls while skinny dipping that he used to whip her, among other acts of abuse.
      • Anita's husband died of cholera on the Oregon Trail, leaving her stranded and destitute, forcing her to turn to prostitution to survive.
      • Eileen was born to a poor rancher family. She left home young hoping to find a rich husband and to be able to afford the finer things in life, only to wind up falling into prostitution.
      • Lily's father was an expert and famous show rider. However after he died his show died with him, and she was left alone and penniless. Like the others, her only option to survive was to turn to selling her body.
    • McCoy lost his family to Frank Jarrett, when Frank jumped the elder McCoy's claim, killing him and raping and murdering McCoy's mother.
  • Death by Origin Story: Anita's husband died on the Oregon Trail, leaving her stranded in Texas. McCoy's mother was murdered by Frank Jarrett sometime before the film begins, as well.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Gender-inverted. McCoy is shot in the back by Kid Jarrett as a petty act of vengeance in the climax, cutting short his romance with Cody.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Outright lampshadeed by Anita in her angry rant to the lawyer who informs her that her husband's claim is worthless since his passing: As a woman she had no value before she was married, and even less value as a whore.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: While all the girls have the looks to pull it off, this is Eileen's go-to strategy. She flirts and bats her eyes at almost anyone standing between her and what she wants, especially William, after she's been arrested and he's been deputized to stand watch while the Marshall pursues the Jarrett gang. Lily gets in on it, as well, when they need to spring Eileen.
  • Distressed Dude: McCoy in the climax, after he rescues Lily from Jarrett, but is captured in the process.
  • Domestic Abuse: It's danced around a bit, but Cody was abused by Jarrett when she was with their gang; she has a number of old scars across her back from being whipped, and gains a few more when he beats and rapes her after the bank robbery. The abuse extended beyond just physical, as well; he's possessive, petty, and controlling.
  • Fanservice: Plenty. Stowe and Barrymore have Toplessness from the Back scenes, (with a generous amount of Side Boob for Barrymore) and then there's the skinny-dipping scene.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Kid and Frank Jarrett. Frank is generally polite to Cody and on the surface seems to have better standards than his son, but in the end is a nasty Manipulative Bastard who toys with Anita for kicks, and plays McCoy like a fiddle. Kid is charismatic, and even helps Cody get her money from the bank (which he happens to be robbing). But he's also a brutal and violent killer and rapist.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Eileen is probably the most feminine of the group, and William's first warning that their gang has decided to take residence at his ranch is when he comes home and finds her at work in his kitchen.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: When the girls spot McCoy sneaking a peak while they're skinny dipping, Cody confronts him starkers.
  • The Fundamentalist: A whole group of them storm Echo City railing against the local bordello. They turn their fury on Cody after she guns down a John who got rough with Anita. Even though the Colonel drew and fired first and Cody only killed him in self-defense, the fact that a prostitute killed and "upstanding" member of the community is all the excuse they need to hang her from the nearest tree.
  • Gainaxing: the film has several slow-motion shots of the women riding their horses, and there's not a modern bra in sight. Eileen and Lily especially have a lot of bounce.
  • Gatling Good: Kid Jarrett's plot is to steal a Gatling gun being moved by the Army.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Cody works as both a male and female name.
  • Gold Digger: Eileen started as this when she was younger, hoping to find a rich husband to get her away from her life as the daughter of a dirt-poor rancher. It ended with her working as a prostitute. It's played with at the end when she falls for the not-well-off William and decides to stay with him even if all they have is their land and each other...but she'll gladly take her substantial cut of the loot they claimed from the Jarrett gang ending up with them both well off after all.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Cody, Anita, Eileen, and Lily begin the film as prostitutes in a rough-and-tumble western town, but all are ultimately decent women. It's especially the case for Anita and Eileen.
  • In the Back: How McCoy gets it in the climax; Jarrett sends him walking to return him to Cody in exchange for the Gatling gun. He shoots him in the back for nothing more than petty spite.
  • The Lad-ette: All four girls qualify, but especially Cody and Lily. Cody is the best shot and quickest draw, drinks and gambles at the bordello in Echo rather than entertaining clients, and spends the least time in dresses. Lily is also a good shot, as well as a skilled rider, she smokes like a chimney, and even impresses Jarrett's rough band of outlaws with how well she can guzzle tequila.
  • The Lost Lenore: Anita's husband, who suffered Death by Origin Story. Even working as a prostitute she loves him dearly, and refuses to kiss another man.
  • Male Gaze: There's more than a few shots of the ladies riding at high speed in low-cut dresses. Lily and Eileen are particularly bouncy. Plus Toplessness from the Back for Cody and Lily (with generous Side Boob for Lily).
  • Mama Bear: Do not mess with the other girls in Cody's presence, as the Colonel found out the hard way.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Frank. He's very polite to Cody, but once he's captured he begins going to work on Anita and McCoy. Cody tries to warn them both not to listen to him, but he's still able to get under their skin.
  • Miss Kitty: It's not established whether Cody ran the brothel where the four worked in Echo City, however she's generally depicted as older, or at least more mature, making her the Cool Big Sis of the group, and spends the most time looking out for the others.
  • Ms. Fanservice: While all four women are prostitutes and look the part, Lily gets the most focus and revealing outfits.
  • No Woman's Land: The Old West was not a pleasant place to be a woman:
    • All four of the women have been forced into prostitution to survive, as there are literally no other options for an unmarried woman with no other family to support her in that time. Even worse, they're considered disposable by society, with few protections from a John who gets too rough.
      • Lily's father was a stunt rider who died and his show went with him, leaving her penniless and with no other means to support herself.
      • Anita's husband died en route to Oregon, leaving her stuck with nowhere else to turn.
      • Eileen came from a dirt-poor ranch and dreamed of finding a rich husband only to end up with a lot of heartache.
    • Anita's and her husband's claim in Oregon isn't worth the paper it's written on after his death, leaving her with nothing and shattering her dreams for a new life.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The Sheriff of Echo City doesn't make a move to stop the bible-thumping lynch mob trying to hang Cody for shooting the Colonel. Granted, he's only one man and the Temperance Group is riled into quite a fury.
    • The Colonel's widow has this view when he refuses to go after Cody following her escape, leading her to hire Pinkertons to track her down instead.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Any pretense that Kid Jarrett is Affably Evil is quite thoroughly quashed the moment he brutally and violently rapes Cody. He later forces himself on Lily, as well.
  • Revenge: McCoy's initial motivation for hooking up with Cody and her crew is vengeance against Frank Jarrett for Frank jumping his father's claim and murdering his mother. He doesn't bother to hide that he followed after them once he learned that Cody had once ridden with Kid's gang in hopes she would lead him to Frank
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Even though multiple witnesses would be able to confirm that Cody shot the Colonel in self-defense, and the Sheriff himself had no intent on chasing her, the Colonel's widow goes over his head and brings in Pinkertons for revenge.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: As seen on the page image, Madeline Stowe, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Drew Barrymore are about to shoot you. Andie MacDowell is not.
  • Shameful Strip: Kid Jarrett forces Lily to strip out of the more practical clothes she wore during the ambush, and in front of his entire gang.
  • Show Some Leg: Lily shows a whole lot more than just her leg when she goes to distract the deputy guarding the jail. She steps in wearing a dress with a very low neckline, and hikes her skirt up well past her hip at one point to show the guard an "injury" she received during Jarrett's robbery.
  • Southern Belle: Eileen affects an image that she was born and raised in New Orleans. In truth, she only wishes she was. She was actually the daughter of a poor Texas rancher.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: All of the girls can ride, shoot, and fight, however Cody and Lily are the most overtly tomboyish. Both tend to dress in masculine clothing more often than not, while Lily smokes in almost every scene and can chug tequila. Eileen and Anita, by contrast, are much more feminine.
  • Too Dumb to Live: One of Jarrett's men decides to taunt Lily during the standoff in the climax. With the girls already raw over Jarrett shooting McCoy In the Back, and Lily herself still angry over her rape earlier, she doesn't hesitate to gun him down.
  • The Western: The film is set in Texas in the 1880s.
  • Whip It Good: Kid uses a whip at several points, such as to capture Lily after the Gatling gun heist. Worse still was whipping Cody around the neck before he savagely rapes her.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Pretty much every antagonist.
    • The Colonel strikes Anita when she tries to escape him, and draws and takes a shot at Cody when she tries to warn him off (he misses).
    • The Temperance League of Echo has no qualms against lynching a woman, even if she did shoot in self-defense.
    • Kid Jarrett brutalizes Cody part way through the film and whips her so badly McCoy has to take her to a doctor the moment he finds her.
    • At first it seems averted with Frank Jarrett, who treats Cody much more kindly than Kid, and Cody in turn still display some affection for him...and then you learn what he did to McCoy's mother.
    • The entirety of Kid's gang has no more hang-ups about gunning the women down than they would anyone else in the final shootout.


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