Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid

Sam Peckinpah’s cut of his last major western (1973) runs 15 minutes longer than the originally released version, and it is structured differently. Filmed in ‘Scope and originally scripted by Rudy Wurlitzer (though his script was much revised under the supervision of Peckinpah and others), this story about the last days of Billy the Kid, framed by the death of Pat Garrett in 1908, is perhaps Peckinpah’s most elegiac picture and certainly one of his most romantic. Peckinpah’s cut is a lot more coherent, though it’s still a film of uneven pieces. The movie tends to be stronger in its handling of secondary charactersSlim Pickens’s death scene is a classic, and Katy Jurado, Jason Robards, Chill Wills, Jack Elam, Gene Evans, and Harry Dean Stanton all acquit themselves memorablythan in its treatment of the three leads; James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson have their moments, but the mythic heft of the story seems at times to weigh them down, and Bob Dylan is too clearly Bob Dylan to portray anyone else convincingly. 123 min. (JR)

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