Wednesday, Feb 2024
Director: Arthur Penn
Screenwriters: Leslie Stevens from a Gore Vidal story
Length: 102 mins.
Released: 1958 B & W

left handed gun 1958This version of the Billy the Kid legend is drawn from a play by Gore Vidal and features music by Alexander Courage and a wonderful ballad by William Goyen. Arthur Penn does a superb job directing and the cinematography is at times stunning.

Paul Newman is Billy the Kid is this retelling of the Lincoln County cattle wars. Although this version is less about the wars and more about the tortured soul of Billy. As in other Billy the Kid films, Billy (Newman) looks considerably older than the 19 year gunslinger of record. Though not as old as Kris Kristofferson in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973). Newman puts much effort into portraying the part of a confused youth. A naive quickdraw, who shoots without considering the ramifications of his actions. The movies' focus on The Kids' persona and Newman's star power combine to put the movie out of balance. Too much about The Kid's inner pain. Clearly, the film draws from a contemporary film about juvenile delinquents, Rebel Without A Cause (1955). Fans of Paul Newman will find this film enjoyable.

Penn's work, the fine ballad, and Newman's effort mandate the placing of this movie among the Good Viewers.


  • Paul Newman....William 'Billy the Kid' Bonney
  • Lita Milan....Celsa
  • John Dehner....Pat Garrett
  • Hurd Hatfield....Moultrie
  • James Congdon....Charlie Boudre
  • James Best....Tom Folliard
  • Colin Keith-Johnston...Tunstall
  • John Dierkes....McSween
  • Bob Anderson .... Hill
  • Wally Brown.... Moon, Deputy
  • Ainslie Pryor.... Joe Grant
  • Martin Garralaga....Saval
  • Denver Pyle....Ollinger
  • Paul Smith.... Smith
  • Nestor Paiva.... Pete Maxwell
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