Rumors began to reach the studio that director Sam Peckinpah was unable to work due to his heavy drinking. So as a joke, a photo was taken which showed Peckinpah on a stretcher being fed whiskey through an IV bottle while cast members carried him.
According to Kris Kristofferson, Sam Peckinpah hired Donnie Fritts, a log-time collaborator of Kristofferson's as a favor, and cast him as Billy the Kid's gang member, Beaver. Because Fritts had no scripted lines, all he does is repeat whatever anyone says in the movie.
Kris Kristofferson and Sam Peckinpah had several heated arguments during the making of the film, and others on the set often thought it would end up in a fight. Peckinpah, always very confrontational, wanted to fight Kristofferson but said that he feared Kristoffersonm, a former Army Airborne Ranger, would "kill him". Kristofferson answered, "Yeah, Sam, I think you're right". In spite of this, Peckinpah referred to Kristofferson as a "fucking great guy" and said that working with him was "one of the greatest experiences of my life".
A bent flange on a lens of one of the Panavasion cameras caused all the shots made with that one camera (all of them master shots) to be out of focus on the right side, and thus rendering them totally unusable. Because MGM had refused Sam Peckinpah's request for a camera mechanic to be on duty during the shoot in Durango, and because all the footage was first sent back to Los Angeles for processing, the crew didn't discover the problem for weeks. Only after the faulty lens was replaced did MGM send a camera mechanic down; and by that time, the film was several days over schedule, and several hundred thousand dollars over budget.
Sam Peckinpah's alcoholism was so advanced during the making of this film that he would have to start the day with a large tumbler of neat vodka to stop his shakes. By mid-afternoon he would have moved onto grenadine. After that, he was too drunk to work. James Coburn recalled that Peckinpah was only really coherent for four hours a day.