William Bonney - Billy the Kid - gets a job with a cattleman known as 'The Englishman,' and is befriended by the peaceful, religious man. But when a crooked sheriff and his men murder the Englishman because he plans to supply the local Army fort with his beef, Billy decides to avenge the death by killing the four men responsible, throwing the lives of everyone around him - Tom and Charlie, two hands he worked with; Pat Garrett, who is about to be married; and the kindly Mexican couple who take him in when he's in trouble - into turmoil, and endangering the General Amnesty set up by Governor Wallace to bring peace to the New Mexico Territory.Written by
Gary Dickerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Interestingly, the title of this movie promotes a common misconception that was proved untrue in 1986. Two almost identical tintypes of Billy the Kid were taken at the same time in 1880. The original of one tintype disappeared years ago. The second original tintype was preserved for years in the Sam Diedrick family and came to light only in 1986. Since tintypes are reversed images, the picture from the first tintype led to the myth of the left-handed gun. After the second tintype came to light, the reversed image was reversed to show the Kid as he actually posed, with a Winchester carbine in the left hand and his holstered Colt single-action on his right hip. See Utley, Robert M., Billy the Kid, A Short and Violent Life, University of Nebraska Press, 1989. Statement following page 110 alongside the picture of Billy the Kid. See more »
The "Englishman" describes his origins as from Ayrshire, a county in South West Scotland. In that case he would be a Scot and not English. See more »
This is my wedding, Billy. You try to start something, I'll take it hard.
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Penn gives you a glimpse of things to come in his first film
The director of Bonnie & Clyde and Little Big Man is off to a promising start with The Left Handed Gun, his first film. The film stars a young Paul Newman as Billy the Kid. Billy, working as a ranch hand, swears revenge on the four men who ambushed and killed his boss.
That's about it for plot. Newman plays Billy well, portraying a man bent on his mission. One senses that he means well, but his short temper and dark past always get the best of him, even during his friend's, Pat Garrett (John Dehner in a nice performance), wedding.
Unfortunately, Newman suffers from a weak supporting cast and little character development. I found it hard to believe that Billy could develop such a strong bond with his boss in such a short time (although the movie doesn't exactly specify how long). With the possible exception of Garrett, the remaining players are there to fill up the screen.
In short, I wasn't disappointed with this film, but if you want to view a great Western about a man driven by revenge, definitely see John Wayne in The Searchers.
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