It's one of the great tragic true stories of the old wild West, the story of two outlaw friends ending up enemies as one turns over and becomes a lawman - expressly for the purpose of hunting down his friend.
The film deals with aging gunfighters/ lawmen and the fracturing of their friendship as they mature. I found this to be an incredibly poetic film, though it does still contain the usual bloody gunfights and slow motion violence Sam Peckinpah is known for.
Not any more impressed with this now than I was when it came out.
It's a ponderous, somewhat self-important 1973 flick, with a heckofalot of posing and more attempted poignancy by the camera and in the acting per speech of dialogue than the script generally warrants or rewards. Conversations sprout out of nowhere, lacking natural flow ...and then 11 people are shot dead. Slim Pickens, Jack Elam, Jason Robards, Katy Jurado, Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Fernandez put in good if brief appearances, although this last declaims his dying speech with a bit too much elocution and not half enough wounded-to-deathness to my taste. Dylan is pretty much useless, strictly in this to attract more audience, and other than Knocking on Heaven's Door the soundtrack may have authenticity but it's hardly Rozsa or Morricone. Horses seem to've got hurt in making this movie. People don't much care when they're about to die. And there are precious few scenes of stylized violence of the kind Peckinpah was famed for--which might have made things worthwhile.
Brief aside, going out on a limb: it's as if Peckinpah has tried to gain from Leone's pasta westerns, but hasn't picked up that lenghthiness without enough real intensity isn't what the Italians brought to the genre.
This is from a peculiar era when sexual license was afloat, along with frowning on inhibitions--provided that 95% of it involved the woman's clothes, it was a curious variant on the notion of "liberated." Mostly exposed breasts, strictly for decorative value.
Speaking of which, as you might imagine, the locations, costumes and art direction are all better than average, and the image could not be better for pre-digital.
Director Sam Peckinpah made a great western in "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid". I especially admire Peckinpah using so many great western character actors in the film. Lets look at the list. It starts with such actors as Chill Wills, Jack Elam, and Slim Pickens. These guys has been on the screen in so many westerns, but here they have a great script. Who do you think did the soundtrack? Would you believe Bob Dylan and it is fantastic. Take the CD out from KCLS and hear it for yourself. The cinematography is great in the movie as well. I haven't even gotten to the stars which are James Coburn as Pat Garrett and Kris Kristoferson as Billy the Kid. Both actors put are realistic in their characters. The West was a violent place, so don't expect Peckinpah of all directors to spare you violence. The movie is really gripping and one of the best westerns I have ever seen. One reason is the realism of the characters and the environment of the west. Thanks Mr Peckinpah for a really great western!
This DVD set delivers a longer version of the film by Sam Pekinpah. It is a fairly slow moving western, one some people consider to be one of the best western's ever made. I disagree. While enjoyable to watch, it pales compared to classics like 'Once Upon a Time In The West'. The fact that Pat Garrett was portrayed as something of a villain further discounts its merit. My DVD is also scratched up, resulting in not-so-smooth viewing.
It may be an old movie but still a classic one with great performances form some well known actors and even a cameo from a muso who does handle his part reasonably well.
Brothel scenes and nudity, plus one rape scene.
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