Thursday, Jun 2024
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Screenwriters: Rudy Wurlitzer
Length: 122 mins.
Theme Song: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (mp3) - Bob Dylan
Released: 1973

pat garrett and billy the kid film posterOne could argue that Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is the first of a modern genre of Westerns; the MTV western. A film that is highly stylized and features pop icons cast in cowboy roles (Excepting Elvis in Flaming Star). Without doubt, this movie has considerably more substance than some of the heroin chic, MTV westerns made in the late 1990's (Ride With the Devil). Credit the distinct directing of Sam Peckinpah and solid acting of James Coburn for making Pat Garrett a Must See. Bob Dylan adds much to the film with his music. Unfortunately, he takes away nearly what he adds with his oddball character, Alias. A meek store-keeping, knife-throwing, lurk-about that moves between the two rival camps with unexplained ease. Peckinpah's graphic violence and stark reality contrast sharply with other movies of the era, True Grit and Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. A potty mouthed Chill Wills is particularly shocking and funny. The foul mouthed Wills does to Western dialog what Jane Russell did to Western sex in The Outlaw. Profanity and graphic, explicit, sexual speak is sprinkling throughout Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. The viewer can hear Tom Mix spinning in his grave in one scene where Wills describes a whore with a breast filled with tequila.

The story is the oft told Arizona (map) tale of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. A 30 something Kris Kristofferson is cast as the 19 year old Kid. Garrett and the Kid were hired guns for cattlemen but times have changed and the gun slingers are no longer needed or wanted. The Kid is told to leave town and Garrett, a hired gun turned lawman, is given the job of enforcing the order. Garrett laments; "God damned law is ruining this country". Appearances by classic Western stars R.G. Armstrong and Katy Jurado contribute to the film. Unfortunately, excepting James Coburn, the casting of lead cowboys Kristofferson and Dylan hurts Peckinpah's effort. making the film less than a classic.


  • James Coburn ....Sheriff Patrick J. Garrett
  • Kris Kristofferson .... William H. 'Billy the Kid' Bonney
  • Richard Jaeckel ....Sheriff Kip McKinney
  • Katy Jurado ....Mrs. Baker
  • Chill Wills .... Lemuel
  • Barry Sullivan .... John Simpson Chisum
  • Jason Robards .... Gov. Lew Wallace
  • Bob Dylan .... Alias
  • R.G. Armstrong .... Deputy Sheriff Bob Ollinger
  • Luke Askew .... Eno
  • John Beck .... John W. Poe
  • Richard Bright .... Holly
  • Matt Clark .... Deputy Sheriff J.W. Bell
  • Rita Coolidge .... Maria
  • Jack Dodson .... Lewellen Howland
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