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Billy the Kid (American Experience)

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Public Broadcasting Service
  • Release Date: Feb. 7 2012
  • ASIN: B00652U64C
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,251 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

On April 28, 1881, just days from being hanged for murder, 21-year-old Henry McCarty, alias Billy the Kid, outfoxed his jailors and electrified the nation with the last in a long line of daring escapes. Just a few weeks later, he was finally gunned down by an ambitious sheriff, and the felling of one of the most notorious criminals of the age made headlines across the country.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Billy the legend Feb. 17 2012
By wogan - Published on
This DVD attempts to explain the motives and actions of Billy the Kid - Henry McCarty. It is reiterated several times that - yes he killed people and was a `cop killer'; but he is presented as a legend and it is explained why, to some people, he was almost a hero.
There are well done reenactments and numerous talking heads - historians and writers who make countless observations. Period pictures, newspaper illustrations are shown; however by the end of this 60 minute piece one might have grown weary of the frequent showings of the photo that Billy the Kid had made of himself, which is also the picture on the cover of the DVD box.

We are taken back to his childhood and told a bit about his mother and how his friendship developed with the Mexican community. His escape from hanging and then his death is reenacted also.
What is of interest, because it is seldom explained, is how Billy developed his attitude that the law system was corrupt and why he engaged in what became known as the Lincoln County War.

This DVD does have a set up for English subtitles and is of interest to those who wish to learn more of this historical time period and person.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Well done documentary on "outlaw" whose "career" lasted only 6 years and who died at age 21 March 10 2012
By Steve Ramm - Published on
My fellow reviewer - Wogan - pretty much summarized this DVD which I found to be well done, though I really don't have a interest in Western American culture. We all grw up hearing about "Billy the Kid" and there was a feature film about "Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid" (Garrett being the sheriff), but if you ask most folks about him, there is little response except that he was a "folk hero".

The 55-minute show, narrated by Michael Murphy, uses lots of well-done recreations and inserts archival photos. After about 10 minutes you realize you are seeing the SAME photo of "Billy" who was born with the name Henry (without a known father) in New York, and moved west with his mother after the Civil war, changing his own name TWICE. He was arrested first at age 15 and died at age 21.. so there isn't much of a life to tell. That photo continues (sometime colorized) until we get to 1880 and find out the reason for the photo - the only one known to exist.

The "experts" are all authors - except for one "Historian" - and are engaging speakers. Two have Irish brogues which add to the stories of some of the characters in Billy's "story" who were Irish.

There are no special features for this episode of the PBS "American Experience" series. Certainly of interest to those who like western American culture, but others will find the time spent watching it worthwhile.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
anything for billito March 16 2013
By michael malone - Published on
Verified Purchase
i only gave this a four because there is plenty of important minutia glossed over or left out that would've made this first rate am. ex. piece even more so...very good , nonetheless/.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Real Story of Billy the Kid April 6 2013
By barb - Published on
Verified Purchase
It was a good story. We have always heard the Billy the Kid was a cold blooded murderer. It's not true! This ws a great story. I highly recommend it for History buffs!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Terrific and truthful Feb. 24 2014
By Karris - Published on
Keeping in the tradition of American Experience documentaries, the researchers did their work here, and present as accurate a portrait of Billy and the organized crime ring he and his regulators were up against as you are ever likely to see in the media or outside of a book. In spite of the Dolan's attempt to paint McCarty as a psyhcotic killer, his legend lives on while there's is a long forgotten failure.

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