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Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)

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An aging Pat Garrett is hired as a lawman on behalf of a group of wealthy New Mexico cattle barons--his sole purpose being to bring down his old friend Billy the Kid.



Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Bright ...


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 <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Best of enemies. Deadliest of friends.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for western violence and sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 August 1973 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$4,638,783 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(1988 restored) | (2005 DVD Special Edition) | (Cut theatrical)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sam Peckinpah did complete a preview version of the film, which was shown to critics on at least one occasion. Martin Scorsese had just made Mean Streets (1973) and was at the screening, and he praised the film as Peckinpah's greatest since The Wild Bunch (1969). This version, however, would not see the light of day for over ten years. See more »


When Cody is lying on a bed, his left arm is over the rifle, with his hand hanging from the bed, and his right hand is leaning on his left shoulder. In the next shot, when Poe touches him, his left hand is holding the rifle and his right hand leaning on the bed. See more »


Pat Garrett: Now I want you to stand over behind Breed, here. Now I want you to take the stock of that gun and rap him smartly on the back of the head. You do it, boy, or this bullet that's going through his chest is liable to come out the other side and tickle your private parts.
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Featured in Edge of Outside (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

A rich, haunting, yet demanding work...

Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" is a rich, haunting, yet demanding work that, above everything else, sees Billy as a creature of his day and age…

He is by no means made a wholly sympathetic character, but who was sympathetic in the New Mexico of 1881? Peckinpah has most of his characters dyed with violence and sniffing the prevailing air of corruption—the chief protagonists, their filthy henchmen, even the onlookers…

Where and what is the law? No one seems to know or care… Garrett and Billy have seen both sides, like almost everyone else…

And among the confusion and violence that is the legacy of range war there is no gleam of purifying light in the efforts we see being made to clean up the territory… The powers that be want Billy out of New Mexico, not for ethical reasons, but rather so that things can be neatly protected for the approaching business exploitation…

Garrett is the man made sheriff to hunt him down and thereby the man who compromises . . . 'This country's getting older and I aim to grow old with it ... there's an age in a man's life when he has to consider what's going to happen next.'

But Billy can't compromise… It's not his way… "Billy, they don't like you to be so free!" proclaims the Bob Dylan theme song, summing up why the power men find Billy so irritating… Perhaps that's why Garrett who has sold out to power is in some ways a reluctant hunter… He salutes Billy's spirit—his very own personal declaration of independence—but he knows it's not the spirit of the new times…

It says much for Peckinpah's way with actors that he gets such admirable performances out of the comparatively inexperienced Kris Kristofferson, as Billy, and Bob Dylan, as Billy's mate… It says just as much for his Westerns perceptiveness that he relies even more heavily on experience… The well-tried James Coburn is both solid and hard to define as Garrett… And then there are the others who know their way around Westerns so well—Katy Jurado, Slim Pickens, R. G. Armstrong, Jason Robards, Jack Elam, Chill Wills… There's not a single performance here that isn't a rounded-off portrait in its own right…

It all adds up to a richness in characterization that is matched by the richness of marvelously composed scenes in which interiors and exteriors alike have been put together with loving care and attention to detail, whether it's a big set-piece 'shoot-up' or a close-up of a can of preserves—how such a can looked in 1881…

Garrett's hunt for Billy is told mainly in set-pieces and it has to be said that Peckinpah makes little narrative concession to an audience in the way they are strung together… But for the out and out Western fan this is a most memorable movie…

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