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It's 1881 in New Mexico, and the times they are a'changing. Pat Garrett, erstwhile travelling companion of the outlaw Billy the Kid has become a sheriff, tasked by cattle interests with ridding the territory of Billy. After Billy escapes, Pat assembles a posse and chases him through the territory, culminating in a final confrontation at Fort Sumner, but is unaware of the full scope of the cattle interests' plans for the New West. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
As Pat Leaves Fort Sumner, a young boy throws stones at him. In longer shots, Pat and the boy are in shadow, but the close shots of the boy show him in bright sunshine with clear sharp shadows defined. See more »
With two classic westerns under his belt (Ride the High Country and The Wild Bunch)and a reputation for being a rebellious non-conformist you would think Sam Peckinpah the ideal person to relate the story of the teen prodigy outlaw, Billy the Kid. You would be wrong. From start to finish this western is an aimless mess. Scenes are poorly paced and disjointed. It looks like it was edited on a beach.
Kris Kristofferson is clearly too old and limited for Billy. As Garrett, James Coburn fares much better with a stylish and graceful performance that exudes a cool confidence despite being in conflict with himself. Bob Dylan supplies some fine music but his performance is an embarrassment. In minor rolls some of the great old guard (Slim Pickens, Katy Jurado, Chill Wills, Jack Elam, R G Armstrong) steal every scene they are in.
There's the requisite slow mo blood spattering scenes of violence and in one scene Chickens replace scorpions (without the symbolism) in a gruesome moment of male bonding but Peckinpah for the most part allows Dylan's score to set the pace in scenes, rendering them sluggish and mawkish.
At this point in his career it was clear Peckinpah had nothing left. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is a testament to how far and fast he had fallen.
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