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Billy the Kid (American Experience)
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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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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.
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.