American Experience: Season 24, Episode 1

Billy the Kid (10 Jan. 2011)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Documentary, History
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 42 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 1 critic

On April 28, 1881, just days from being hanged for murder, 21-year-old Henry McCarty, alias Billy the Kid, outfoxed his jailors and electrified the nation with the last in a long line of daring escapes.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Narrator (voice)
Hampton Sides ...
Himself, non-fiction author
Denise Chávez ...
Herself, author
Michael Wallis ...
Himself, non-fiction author
Paul A. Hutton ...
Himself, historian
Mark Lee Gardner ...
Himself, historian
Frederick Nolan ...
Himself, non-fiction author
Drew Gomber ...
Himself, historian
N. Scott Momaday ...
Himself, author
Fintan O'Toole ...
Himself, non-fiction author
E.A. Mares ...
Himself, author
John-Michael Rivera ...
Himself, non-fiction author
Robert Jensen
Lee McKechnie
Scott Martin Thomas ...
Billy the Kid (as Scott Thomas)
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On April 28, 1881, just days from being hanged for murder, 21-year-old Henry McCarty, alias Billy the Kid, outfoxed his jailors and electrified the nation with the last in a long line of daring escapes.

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reenactment | outlaw | wild west | See All (3) »


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TV-PG

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10 January 2011 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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User Reviews

 
Rather interesting to learn about the REAL Billy the Kid
26 March 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Despite the running time being listed as 234 minutes, it's really much closer to 55. That's because of two problems--Billy was really only a relatively minor crook and there isn't a lot known about him. Details are sketchy and only one photo is known to exist of the guy.

William Henry McCarty, Jr. (not William Bonney) is the actual name of this criminal. The show THINKS that he was born back East but acknowledges that this isn't certain. In fact, up until he became a wanted man at the ripe old age of 15, little is known about him. He apparently came to fame during the so-called 'Lincoln County War'--a crazy feud where law and order disintegrated and folks just started picking sides and blasting each other. Much of the problem was caused by the law actually being VERY corrupt and after a while, folks got sick of this (including Billy). His biggest distinctions during this period was not dying, killing a corrupt sheriff and getting caught. But this is only the beginning--he had a habit of escaping and went on to become a seriously wanted man. I guess killing a sheriff got some notice--even if the guy had it coming! Unlike the exploits of Jesse James and Butch Cassidy, there appears to be SOME kernel of truth to the legend of Billy the Kid. Whereas these other outlaws were just evil crooks who stole from the rich to give to themselves, "The American Experience" seems to feel that he was, in an odd way, a bit of a hero because the law was so corrupt--and he stood up for what he thought was right. Not exactly a hero--but more complex than just some thief and murderer. Still, the newspapers of the day deliberately created the myth of Billy the Kid--making up most of what they claim he'd done. Overall, an interesting episode as it dispels some myths and gives an interesting portrait of what this guy really was like. Well made and about as complete as possible.


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