Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid Film

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is an epic film of its time. A western movie featuring James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge and even Harry Dean Stanton with Bob Dylan playing a piece part, while his song Knocking on Heaven’s Door dominates everything by strumming the vanquished (dead) to their afterlife.

Pat Garrett – by a Kris Fan

One of the most famous scenes from Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 masterpiece,’Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’ depicts Kris in a Christ-like Jesus on the Cross pose, as he surrenders to Pat Garrett after a shoot out with Garret and his posse. Kris is sensational as Billy the Kid, in his big movie breakthrough. The entire cast, a veritable who’s who of Hollywood western movie legends is top notch..James Coburn is magnificent as Pat Garrett. Peckinpah develops the chemistry between his two leads with skill and superb artistry. The film also boasts a fantastic soundtrack by Bob Dylan. Bob also has a cameo role in the film as one of Kris’ sidekicks. Sadly the film studio mucked around with the final cut and initially, the movie was not a success. Thankfully, two director cuts emerged in 1988 and 2005. The film is now regarded as one of the greatest westerns, ever. It’s Sam Peckinpah’s lament for the decline of the Old West – right as big business takes over – And seen through the contrasting fortunes of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. It’s my No. 1 Kris movie ever.

Richard Powell
Kristofferson as Billy the Kid / crucifixion pose. Fair Use to illustrate the discussion.
Billy the Kid – Crucifiction pose

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Sam Peckinpah, Controversy and Film The Trio

Sam Peckinpah and Kris Kristofferson made a few controversial ones. This was one of them. There was criticism that during the process of cutting the film to reduce the running time, the heart had been ripped out of the film. The studio cut the over-budget film from 124 to 106 minutes. Critics said it made the movie “incoherent”.

Aruments, ego and difference of opinion followed. There is a sense that some strongly believed that the film cuts were made in the worst places, with the aim of ruining both the film as well as personal reputations.

It was the era of corporations, cheap drugs and boozy lifestyles. What do you think?

Not Seen it Yet? Seriously?

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Note: Avoid confusion – When looking for this film, you might want the original 1973, the later Director’s Cut (if you can find it) and/or the soundtrack.

I never saw the original. I can say that this is one of the few westerns that I have seen that didn’t send me to sleep.

The actors and the soundtrack might be the combination that won me over. Wide open rolling country scenery and of course – Billy (Kris Kristofferson) make it a compelling watch.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Plot

Two men, clearly friends with a long history of being bonded like brothers have split apart when one, Pat Garrett (James Coburn) becomes sheriff. As sheriff, Garret has no choice but to arrest his old friend, Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) for a murder committed some years before.

Billy is jailed, and due to hang in three days time. The charming vagabond shoots his way out of custody and is officially on the run for most of the movie.

Mixed Reviews

The film had mixed reviews from the start. The 1988 directors cut changed this for some people. Reviews are easy to find – as are opnions. There are as many people who love this film as there that hate it. This is one film where you will have to make up your own mind about it.

4.5 Star Rating

Martin Scagnelli gave Pat Garrett and Billy the kid 4.5 Stars

If you watch this film, please let us know what you think about it.

If you are interested in other Kristofferson films, click here

Michael Scagnelli considers that Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is a movie that can stand with Straw Dogs – A compliment, indeed.

The following is his Twitter post, and the content is his own. We insert it here so fans can find it.

Michael Scagnelli – Public Domain Twitter Feed




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