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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Must-see for Kilmer fans, very different character for Val!

Author: I M Buggy from USA
14 June 2004

The movie has the feel of a sort of made-for-TV B-movie. It's more drama than action, focusing primarily on the interpersonal interactions. But it gives an interesting perspective on Billy the Kid. I have no idea how historically accurate it might be, however.

Val Kilmer portrays Billy the Kid as a rather backwoods, laid-back country bumpkin. Unlike a lot of Val's characters which are portrayed intensely and over-the-edge, he shows a totally different side of his acting abilities.

Overall, I was rather positively surprised with the movie, expecting it to be intense, moody and aggressive. But it's not, at all. It's simply an enjoyably different portrayal of Billy the Kid, not an outstanding movie but enjoyable just the same. I'm giving it a 6 on the ratings, about low-average for my rating, but I'm glad I watched it. If you're a Kilmer fan, it'll give you a whole different view of Val's multi-talented acting.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of the enduring legends of the old west.

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
9 October 2001

Interesting and enjoyable is Gore Vidal's retelling of the saga of William Bonney(Val Kilmer) and his friend-turned-nemesis Pat Garrett(Duncan Regehr).This TV project is better in quality than your average western/cowboy fare. The volatile Billy the Kid seems a likable menace; although quick to put holes in his victims. Kilmer mumbled most of his dialogue; intentional or just annoying? Wilford Brimley is excellent as the Governor of New Mexico. Rene Auberjonois is a convincing drunk. Also in support are Julie Carman, the love interest, along with Michael Parks and veteran character actor Albert Salmi. And the first cowpoke that Billy blows away is Red West, a very good stunt man and notable as one of Elvis Presley's body guards. There are more unbelievable Billy the Kid yarns out there. This one is pretty classy and intelligent.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Accurate but not compelling

Author: supercygnus from United States
12 February 2014

I'm a big fan of Val Kikmer but ....this was a little underwhelming. I had been very excited to see this cable production when it was advertised (I think for TNT, but I would have to look it up to be sure) years ago and watched it when it first aired. It is historically accurate (as much as something like this can be, and from what I am familiar regarding the real events) but it is also very dry and not artistically ambitious in any way. Kilmer creates a character completely different than anything else he has played, but unfortunately he comes off somewhat brain damaged. Educated from his childhood in New York until his mother's death in his early teens after moving out West, it is doubtful Billy Thr Kid was as seemingly slow witted as portrayed here. The Kid had charmed his way into a variety of circumstances to escape a sure death, survived the Lincoln County War and even had correspondence with the Governor negotiating his testimony against corrupt businessmen on the opposite side of the Licoln County War in exchange for a clean slate. Kilmer's interpretation suggests more of a functioning mentally handicapped desperado with a simple charm. Still, it is a well intentioned piece of t.v. filmmaking that those interested in the time frame and Billy might find some redeeming value. Be prepared for a fairly slow production though.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

an interesting story about the life of a true western legend

Author: Jeliosjelios from France
24 April 2011

I was always interesting by the story of Billy the kid ... so ... Billy the Kid,… Val Kilmer, ... why not ...

And without realizing it, we are very quickly absorbed by the film, which passes relatively quickly which is always a good sign. It is true that resources are limited, that is not a huge production, but the story is very good and simply told as accurately as possible, giving the main charm of the film.

The direction is simple, the sets were limited but sufficient, but with some technical and artistic skills the story is very properly and nice. The actors are fine, neither more nor less, and with their strong experience, (we recognize some of them) interpreted well. Val Kilmer gives us a William Bonney (aka Billy the kid) impulsive, impatient, naive and simpleton. Billy the kid was young and provided with certain talents and often described with these traits. Val Kilmer's interpretation is very plausible and well.

We have not the same means as "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah), or" Chisum "(Andrew V. McLaglen) or even a William Munny" unforgiven "but ... this film does not suffer at all. His choice of narrative on the overall life of Billy the Kid and not exclusively on the chase with Pat Garret is judicious and enjoyable. This film is good and just the story of Billy the Kid.


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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

No award winning movie, but 'twill serve

Author: staisil2 from Wisconsin
16 April 2003

William H. Bonney, also known to many as Billy the Kid, was one of the greatest gunfighters that ever lived, and already at the age of 19, was an outlaw. In every story written about Billy the Kid, they all revolve around the same example or explanations. (Pat killed Billy, Billy killed 21 men-one for each year of his life, was a ladies' man, one of the 'greats,' etc.) Val Kilmer did a descent job playing the Kid, and the movie served its purpose well. 7 out of 10.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Loving Huntsman - The Smiling Nemesis.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
1 August 2013

Billy the Kid is directed by William A. Graham and written by Gore Vidal. It stars Val Kilmer, Wilford Brimley, Julie Carmen, Duncan Regehr, Albert Salmi and Ned Vaughn. Music is by Laurence Rosenthal and cinematography by Denis Lewiston.

Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid is no under seen classic, yes in terms of historical content it has much going for it, with Val Kilmer's portrayal of the legendary outlaw adhering to what historical notices tell us he was really like. However, whilst Vidal and the makers deserved credit for keeping the film sombre in tone, with a refusal to pander to action embellishments, there's the cold facts that it's pretty dull in execution, cheap in production value and lacking in complex characterisation.

Narratively it's interesting if you are someone who hasn't seen other films involving Billy the Kid, but if you have then there's nothing new here to mark it down as essential stuff. In fact this production is sandwiched by both Young Guns movies in 88 and 90, which in spite of the mixed reaction both received, also cover the historical basis of Billy Bonney's exploits from the murder of John Tunstall to his demise at the hands of his one time best friend, Pat Garrett (Regehr).

Vidal's own teleplay The Death of Billy the Kid was made into The Left Handed Gun in 1958. Starring Paul Newman as Billy, Vidal was known to be annoyed at how his writing was transformed onto the screen for that production. Which explains why this 89 version was made with Vidal's smiling blessings. Good for him that he got satisfaction, even if The Left Handed Gun is a considerably better movie. The Newman movie is easy to recommend to Western fans, this one not so. Unless it's your first foray into Billy the Kid filmic portrayals or you be a devout Kilmer fan that is. 5/10

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie, Why not on DVD?

Author: tracyap73 from United States
18 December 2010

This is a great movie and Val Kilmer and Gore Vidal deserve all the credit. Kilmer seems to have the expertise of becoming the character in real depth. Vidal, according to several history sites, has the most accurate story to the truth. All the other movies done on Billy the Kid try to put more action in the storyline than what would be more realistic, not that it makes the other movies bad. I would love to see this version of the Kid remastered and put out on DVD/Blue Ray. I have looked everywhere for a copy of this film on DVD but had no luck. I love the Billy the Kid movies, stories, and controversies. It is a very interesting story with the plain facts that they do not need all the action pack fillers. This did seem to be a more realistic version that I highly recommend.

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3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Billy the Kid (1989)

Author: (pollutro) from US
26 December 2000

I saw this movie for the first time on TV earlier this year. Though not as great as "Lonesome Dove", "Billy the Kid" was good. I didn't quite get to see the entire film that time, however. Plus, it doesn't seem to be available to rent, anywhere. I thought it was good, but not as much action as some others.

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0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Dolan and the Lincoln County War

Author: souther02 from United States
5 February 2011

In 2008 Mark Myer and Ron Reeder made a documentary film about outlaws and gunslingers, and that is the name of the film, Outlaws and Gunslingers. It is an in-depth feature, covering renegades, guerrillas, bank robbers and such in the Old West in the United States. What is extremely interesting is this: Suppose all you know or about William Antrim or William Bonney or The Kid is derived from the TV movie "Billy the Kid". This being a documentary, the video I'm watching now, it is fascinating, and informative(depending on who you might ask). But what happened in the Turner movie actually happened according to historical evidence presented in these programs. Every character, or every man vital to the important phases of the outlaw's life is represented. Even Joe Grant(Red West), who instigates gun play with Billy The Kid is mentioned. Ipso facto, the historians are practically recanting the movie. The Kid snakes his hands out of the manacles, that is true. He also kills the deputy guarding him when Billy goes to the outhouse. Though the researchers do say that they don't know for a fact that Bonney(The Kid) killed Dolan. They also don't why Billy did not leave the country after he killed an officer near the Lincoln courthouse. As for Bonney's regulators, they were all either shot by lawmen or headed for high country. But no one seems to know for sure.

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