Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (18)

Film

Westerns

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Time Out says

Restored and reassembled, this is the full and harmonious movie that Peckinpah wanted to be remembered by before the butchers at MGM got their hands on it. Starting with a framing sequence from 1909 which shows Coburn's aged Garrett being gunned down by the same men who hired him to get Billy the Kid back in 1881, the additional 15 minutes introduce the menacing figure of Barry Sullivan's Boss Chisum, a frolicsome brothel scene ('Last time Billy was here it took four to get him up and five to get him down again'), some engaging Wild West cameos, and a less obtrusive use of Bob Dylan's soundtrack. All in all the film is more playful, more balanced, and very much an elegy for the old ways of the West, rather than a meandering bloodthirsty battle between Kristofferson's preposterously likeable outlaw and Coburn's ambivalent survivor, Garrett. Like Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, it both records and condemns the passage of time and the advent of progress; and there is a sombre, mournful quality which places the film very high up in the league of great Westerns.

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James Adamson

I love this movie, and count it as possibly Peckinpah's best as well as among the best westerns ever made. It also illustrates how wrong the executives were, time and again, in compromising Peckinpah's vision of a film however difficult a person he might have been. In the restored version what you realise is that this film is actually about Pat Garrett. The portrayal of Billy the Kid is based entirely on Garrett's vision of his old friend, which buys into all the glamorised myths, nostalgia and regret for a passing age that surrounds Billy. Pat Garrett sees Billy as a reminder of all the compromises he made in order to end up as one of the West's winners while Billy stuck to his pure but doomed way of life. Key scenes are Garrett in the brothel, as part of his long last hurrah living the outlaw life, something he tries to prolong as long as possible before he has to shoot down his old friend and finally give up on his old life, a scene in which a nameless man (played by Peckinpah) berates Garrett by voicing everything Pat thinks of himself, and when Garrett shoots out the mirror because he can't bear to look at himself. I still can't believe they ever tampered with the film because Peckinpah just doesn't put a foot wrong.

James Adamson

I love this movie, and count it as possibly Peckinpah's best as well as among the best westerns ever made. It also illustrates how wrong the executives were, time and again, in compromising Peckinpah's vision of a film however difficult a person he might have been. In the restored version what you realise is that this film is actually about Pat Garrett. The portrayal of Billy the Kid is based entirely on Garrett's vision of his old friend, which buys into all the glamorised myths, nostalgia and regret for a passing age that surrounds Billy. Pat Garrett sees Billy as a reminder of all the compromises he made in order to end up as one of the West's winners while Billy stuck to his pure but doomed way of life. Key scenes are Garrett in the brothel, as part of his long last hurrah living the outlaw life, something he tries to prolong as long as possible before he has to shoot down his old friend and finally give up on his old life, a scene in which a nameless man (played by Peckinpah) berates Garrett by voicing everything Pat thinks of himself, and when Garrett shoots out the mirror because he can't bear to look at himself. I still can't believe they ever tampered with the film because Peckinpah just doesn't put a foot wrong.