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Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import]
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
One of my favourite westerns! And the directors cut...Beautiful!Published 15 months ago by Music Dude
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 morePublished 22 months ago by Kathleen Woodworth
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 morePublished on April 19 2010 by Kenneth Boon
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
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 morePublished on Feb. 27 2004
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 morePublished on Feb. 14 2004 by Retired and Happy
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 morePublished on Feb. 10 2004 by firstname.lastname@example.org
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 morePublished on March 31 2003 by John L. Borden
...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 morePublished on Dec 23 2002 by yygsgsdrassil
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