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Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Two-Disc Special Edition)

James Coburn , Bob Dylan , Sam Peckinpah    Unrated   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 24.95
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Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Two-Disc Special Edition) + Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Butch Cassidy et le Kid) (Special Edition)
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Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid: Special Edition (Dbl DVD)


Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid may be the most beautiful and ambitious film that Sam Peckinpah ever made. The time is 1881. Powerful interests want New Mexico tamed for their brand of progress, and Sheriff Pat Garrett (James Coburn) is commissioned to rid the territory of his old gunfighting comrades. He serves fair notice to William Bonney--Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson)--and his Fort Sumter cronies, but it's not in their nature, or his, to go quietly. Peckinpah's theme, more than ever, is the closing of the frontier and the nature of the loss that that entails. But this time his vision takes him beyond genre convention, beyond history and legend, to the bleeding heart of myth--and surely of himself.

This is one strange and original movie. In 1973 most American reviewers responded by panning it and deriding its director, whom they saw as having betrayed the promise of Ride the High Country, been swept up in his own cult of violence, and become incoherent as a storyteller. Coherence wasn't helped by MGM's cutting at least a quarter-of-an-hour out of the finished film and removing a bitter, retrospective prelude. Subsequent releases have restored a lot of material, and now there's more widespread appreciation of the depth and power of Peckinpah's achievement.

The cast, teeming with fine character actors, is extraordinary, making the gallery of frontier denizens vivid and resonant. Coburn's Garrett, a man who comes to loathe himself for his mission yet cannot abandon it, is the high-water mark of the actor's career. L.Q. Jones, Luke Askew, Harry Dean Stanton, Jack Elam, and Richard Bright create indelible moments, and Slim Pickens becomes the center of an unforgettably moving scene. The presence of Kristofferson (just starting out as an actor) and Bob Dylan (whose enigmatic role is nearly wordless) nudges us toward recognizing Old West outlawry as an early form of rock stardom--flesh-and-blood gods for a primitive society to feed on. --Richard T. Jameson

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Great Westerns Nov. 5 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Few directors have understood the Western genre quite as well as Sam Peckingpah, and although "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" may not be his best Western, it is still an extraordinary achievement. The film is based on the events leading up to the death of the famed outlaw Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) by his former friend turned lawman, Pat Garrett (James Coburn). Although the outlaw's story has been told and retold in countless other movies, none of them are quite as striking as in Peckinpah's unique version.
One of the first things that struck me about the film is the realistic way the characters are depicted. In most traditional Westerns, the concepts of good and evil are fairly clear-cut and easily recognizable. There's the handsome Western hero (usually represented as a lawman), fighting for justice and order against the violent forces of evil (usually represented by outlaws or bloodthirsty Indians). But in this film these concepts are not so neatly drawn. Garrett, for example, pursues Billy the Kid, not necessary out of a sense of justice, but simply because it's his job. When asked why he took the job to begin with, Garrett simply states: "A man gets to an age where he don't want to spend time figuring what comes next." And Billy the Kid, despite being an "outlaw" and clearly prone to violence, as when he breaks out of jail and kills two deputies in the process, is contrasted with his good qualities, particular his likeable charm and loyalty to friends. At one point, Cattle Baron John Chisum (memorably played by Barry Sullivan) asks Garrett almost regretfully, "Are you going to get him?" He echoes what many in the film seem to feel, namely that the Kid may be an outlaw, but he's still one of the most interesting people in the territory.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Peckinpah's Past March 16 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
For a Hollywood picture this effort hews fairly close to the historical facts, and Sam Peckinpah, who does a bit as a coffin-maker in the last act, throws in some of his own inimitable touches. The film covers the two months between Billy the Kid's escape from the Lincoln County jail (brilliantly staged here, although the Kid did not have a gun planted in the privy to accomplish this) and his death in front of Pat Garrett's pistol in a darkened bedroom in Fort Sumner, New Mexico in July, 1881 (also accurately portrayed). This period is fair game for dramatic license because nobody knows why the Kid remained in the New Mexico Territory after he broke out. Some think it was arrogance, others that Billy was attached to a woman in Fort Sumner who allegedly had borne him two daughters. A little of both motives are used here. A serious misstep in the movie is the allegation that the cattle interests or railroads were concerned about the recapture of the Kid. Although he did rustle stock, they couldn't have cared less. He was condemned for the murder of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady, and act of which he was flagrantly guilty, but for which ten other men who helped had been excused. Another blooper is Peckinpah attributing his own thirst for whiskey to Billy. One of the reasons the Kid was so deadly with a firearm was that he was a teetotaler, and was always stone sober when trouble started, while nearly everyone else was intoxicated.Kris Kristofferson plays the Kid as sort of a detached dreamer, and just doesn't capture the magnetic and even happy-go-lucky nature of the Kid mentioned by all of the latter's contemporaries. Nor was Garrett the haunted, womanizing loner portrayed here; he was in fact a fabulously brave but methodical and workaday man happily married to an Hispanic wife. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked film by a one-of-a-kind director Jan. 25 2003
Format:VHS Tape
When Sam Peckinpah gets mentioned, it's usually for films like "The Wild Bunch" and "...Alfredo Garcia". Those are both fine films, but this one never seems to get a lot of press. Maybe because he put too many musicians in it. Maybe people didn't like Bob Dylan in it, or his soundtrack. Maybe they thought of it as by this time, just another violent Western where we know what the ending will be.
But I think this is a great film, populated by very good actors, with very good performances, and yes, I like the music. Once again, we have a movie where the main characters are bad guys, even though society considers some of them good guys. Even though the good guys use bad guy tactics to get the bad guys. Sound confusing. Yep. But from what I know of history, there was a very thin line between those trying to "civilize" the frontier, and those just trying to party hard.
Yes, Billy the Kid was a bad guy, and the movie makes no bones about it. The man has no moral confusion about killing at the drop of the hat, but as it turns, out, it's pride and arrogance that kills him. Kris Kristofferson may not show that much charisma (he shows a lot more these days), it's the bland expression that makes the killer in him more chilling.
Kristofferson aside, just about the entire cast portrays the rough and tumble Old West very well. James Coburn gives one of his best performances as Pat Garrett, portraying the weariness of showing not only that he's been through the mill, but the hypocrisy of killing for the "good guys" now. And the death scene of Slim Pickens with "that song" playing is extremely moving.
Now for Bob Dylan. First remember that "that song" is "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", and even if you hate the movie, this song has become a classic, and this is the movie it came from.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great price for the two CD's
Rated the music CD thinking it was the movie one. Bought this for my husband as he likes oldies but goodies. I watched it with him and really enjoyed it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kathleen Woodworth
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD review of Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid
Received quickly and in very good condition - packaging for shipment was excellent. First saw Pat Garrett and Billy The Kin in the 1970's when it was first released - enjoyed it... Read more
Published on April 19 2010 by Kenneth Boon
5.0 out of 5 stars How's God Look To You Now Bob?
I would give this movie a rating of 16 thin dimes -- Awesome. Incredible acting, awesome music and jaw dropping cinematography. Buy it, buy it, buy it!!
Published on March 15 2006 by Sean Greenwood
5.0 out of 5 stars this needs to be on DVD!
This is a wonderful Western. Extremely stylish. Both Colburn and Kristofferson are cooler than cool. You might also want to check out the Last Days of Frank and Jesse James. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Jack Elam at his best
The portrayal of Alamoosa Bill by Jack Elam is a classic. It's a shame The Kid has to shoot him, but it's the exclamation point of Elam's skill as an actor. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2004 by John J. BAIN
5.0 out of 5 stars Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
One of the best Westerns out there! I just love Rita Coolidge. I've got this movie on Letter Box Laser Disk, but I just can't wait till the DVD arrives! Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2004 by user139512@aol.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Western realism and moral ambivilance
Not having seen this in 30 years, I ordered from Amazon with distant memories of the original cut. While still having Peckinpah's caricature style of sideline characters, which is... Read more
Published on March 31 2003 by John L. Borden
4.0 out of 5 stars The Good, The Bad and The Peckinpah....
...in a film which nearly duplicates Peckinpah's masterful post-modern "The Wild Bunch", we find plenty of macho postering by Rhodes Scholar Kristofferson, (which does not, by the... Read more
Published on Dec 23 2002 by yygsgsdrassil
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the classic in westerns
Published on Oct. 9 2002 by jerome
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the classic in westerns
the sound track is one the best,the movement of the music is consistant with the story charles and henry are the ultimate foe the haunting sound of charles harmonic playing is... Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2002 by jerome
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