In this version of the Billy the Kid legend, Billy, after shooting down land baron William Donovan's henchmen for killing Billy's boss, is hunted down and captured by his friend, Sheriff ... See full summary »
In this version of the Billy the Kid legend, Billy, after shooting down land baron William Donovan's henchmen for killing Billy's boss, is hunted down and captured by his friend, Sheriff Pat Garrett. He escapes and is on his way to Mexico when Garrett, recapturing him, must decide whether to bring him in or to let him go. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
Famous silent screen actor and history buff,William S. Hart, was hired by the studios as a tech adviser and to coach Johnny Mack Brown for his role as Billy the Kid. During a publicity photo shoot, Brown is seen holding Hart's most prize possession from his gun collection: a revolver that once belonged to Billy the Kid. It later turned out that Mr. Hart was bamboozled, the gun was manufactured years after Billy the Kid's death. Despite not being Billy the Kid's gun, the revolver continued to be on display at the William S. Hart Museum. In the 1990s, the museum was broken into and the entire gun collection was stolen. See more »
Although generally forgotten, this version of "Billy the Kid" (1930) has held up remarkably well and should surprise contemporary viewers who think of the early talkies as something out of the Dark Ages.
I'm normally disgusted when these so-called historical epics take great liberties with the truth (particularly when the true story is more interesting that the embellished version) but almost 80 years since its release I doubt if the film will be taken as serious history by any new viewers. They probably should have changed the names along with the facts but there was marketing potential in promoting it as the story of William Bonny.
The title character is played by a young Johnny Mack Brown, just a couple years after his 1926 MVP performance for the victorious University of Alabama in the Rose Bowl. Mack was called "The Dothan Antelope" from his high school football days in Dothan Alabama. Watch for signs of his athletic prowess throughout the film, especially at the end where he mounts a horse and rides sidesaddle into the sunset while wearing handcuffs and leg irons.
King Vidor's "Billy the Kid" was quite a production for its day, probably the first major production filmed in a widescreen format. Although most likely you will have to view it in the 4 x 3 Hollywood format in which it was simultaneously filmed.
Brown's co-star was Wallace Beery (playing Pat Garrett) and their scenes together are excellent, the two manage a nice chemistry with different yet very complementary acting styles. The role made Beery a major star in "talking" pictures and Brown soon became a Top 10 movie cowboy.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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