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Pretending death at the hands of his friend, Marshal Pat Garrett, (Bob Duncan). Billy the Kid (Anthony Dexter) rides away to live in peace under a new name in a far away frontier town, only to run foul of ruthless empire builder Col. Morgan (Robert Lowery) and his top gun Jack Slade (Sonny Tufts). Billy's the only man who can stop Morgan but he turns down the pleas of help from preacher Jericho Jones (Charles 'Buddy' Rogers), who knows of Billy and his past, newspaper editor Elly McCloud (Madalyn Trahey) and her romantic rival Tonya (Marie Windsor). It's only after the preacher is shot down trying to stop Morgan's killers that Billy straps on his guns. Written by
This is a workmanlike Western that imagines what might have happened if the famous outlaw Billy the Kid faked his (most likely) real death, with the aid of Sheriff Pat Garret, and tried to live a normal life. Naturally, there wouldn't be much of a story if things indeed turned out normally, so these are the "new" adventures of Billy the Kid. Does he really hang up his guns? What do you think?
This is a completely uneven film. The score switches from banjo music, to what sounds like zither music (as in "The Third Man," though not nearly as good), to organ music appropriate for a funeral, to a purely 1950's ballad sung in a church. There is stock footage throughout that is incredibly jarring because it is of such low quality (if they show that house burning one more time....), and some of the shots look like they were done with a low-quality hand-camera. But the majority of the film is in brilliant color and a feast for the eyes.
Several of the actors remind me of other, more well-known personalities. Sonny Tufts, first an ally then an enemy of Billy, kept me thinking of James Arness of "Gunsmoke" fame, while the man playing the heavy, Robert Lowery, looks for all the world like George Clooney. Marie Windsor steals every scene in which she appears, and makes eating an apple look orgasmic. Anthony Dexter, as Billy, wasn't much of an actor, looking self-conscious throughout (the opening scene is particularly grating), but, especially in his attire, kept reminding me of Roy Rogers (in his acting, he doesn't sing). The "Indians" are portrayed in that classic Western way as simple enemies that must have been wearing thin even by 1957.
Don't expect too much, this is by-the-numbers with overly obvious symbolism that some may find grating (such as when the "Parson" of the title, who isn't even that big a character, is annoyingly put into a certain Christ-like position). I would watch the very similar and vastly better "Chisum" over this film. But still, this is a solid Western with interesting elements that you may well enjoy.
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