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Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Two-Disc Special Edition)

4.1 out of 5 stars 228 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid: Special Edition (Dbl DVD)

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Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid may be the most beautiful and ambitious film that Sam Peckinpah ever made. The time is 1881. Powerful interests want New Mexico tamed for their brand of progress, and Sheriff Pat Garrett (James Coburn) is commissioned to rid the territory of his old gunfighting comrades. He serves fair notice to William Bonney--Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson)--and his Fort Sumter cronies, but it's not in their nature, or his, to go quietly. Peckinpah's theme, more than ever, is the closing of the frontier and the nature of the loss that that entails. But this time his vision takes him beyond genre convention, beyond history and legend, to the bleeding heart of myth--and surely of himself.

This is one strange and original movie. In 1973 most American reviewers responded by panning it and deriding its director, whom they saw as having betrayed the promise of Ride the High Country, been swept up in his own cult of violence, and become incoherent as a storyteller. Coherence wasn't helped by MGM's cutting at least a quarter-of-an-hour out of the finished film and removing a bitter, retrospective prelude. Subsequent releases have restored a lot of material, and now there's more widespread appreciation of the depth and power of Peckinpah's achievement.

The cast, teeming with fine character actors, is extraordinary, making the gallery of frontier denizens vivid and resonant. Coburn's Garrett, a man who comes to loathe himself for his mission yet cannot abandon it, is the high-water mark of the actor's career. L.Q. Jones, Luke Askew, Harry Dean Stanton, Jack Elam, and Richard Bright create indelible moments, and Slim Pickens becomes the center of an unforgettably moving scene. The presence of Kristofferson (just starting out as an actor) and Bob Dylan (whose enigmatic role is nearly wordless) nudges us toward recognizing Old West outlawry as an early form of rock stardom--flesh-and-blood gods for a primitive society to feed on. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

  • Disc One: 2005 Special Edition (115 mins.)
  • Commentary by Special Edition Producer Nick Redman, Supervising Editor Paul Seydor and fellow Peckinpah biographers/documentarians Garner Simmons and David Weddle
  • Peckinpah trailer gallery
  • English 1.0, French 1.0
  • Disc 2: 1988 Turner Preview Version (122 mins.)
  • Commentary by Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle
  • 2 new featurettes:
  • One Foot in the Groove: Remembering Sam Peckinpah and Other Things
  • One for the Money: Sam's Song
  • English 1.0

Product Details

  • Actors: James Coburn, Matt Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, Bob Dylan
  • Directors: Sam Peckinpah
  • Writers: Rudolph Wurlitzer
  • Producers: Gordon Carroll
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 23, 2006
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BT96DC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,262 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Two-Disc Special Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Movies, especially genre pieces, are rarely unique; so one has to look at this film as a magnificent achievement, if only for its extraordinary originality and the manner in which it achieves that originality without demolishing the Western genre. Unlike Sergio Leone, who signaled his love of the genre even as he deconstructed it; PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID seems to spontaneously erupt out of Peckinpah's unconcious. I don't think he ever made a film before or after which speaks so effortlessly and so beautifully in the voice of its author. The result is a Western which is not only unlike any other Western ever made, but completely unlike any other film ever made, including Peckinpah's own.

Firstly, this film moves in an entirely unique manner, avoiding the three-act structure of the conventional film in favor of a cyclical arc which inexorably propels the film towards its violent climax. The film, quite literally, ends where it begins, both chronologically and geographically. Secondly, the film's dialogue is simply extraordinary. Screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer (most probably in collaboration with Peckinpah) invents a patois which, for all intents and purposes, amounts to an artificial period dialect. The film essentially invents its own language. This, combined with John Coquillon's bleached-tan cinematography, creates a world so self contained that one begins to understand how its inexorable forces push against its characters, rendering them helpless before their fates.

This is also, without question, a masterpiece of acting on the part of James Coburn. His performance ranks with John Wayne's Ethan Edwards in THE SEARCHERS as a towering pice of film acting.
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Format: DVD
There seems to be a lasting discussion, or even a consensus, about why this movie is flawed in one way or the other and worse than the Wild Bunch, especially amongst US audience. A discussion I frankly can't quite follow even though it is belabored at considerable length in the commentary tracks. The issue apparently also motivated Mr. Seydor to throw together a so called 'special edition' with scenes taken from either the Turner version or the theatrical release, in an attempt to produce a version he feels Sam Peckinpah might had been striving for, given the troubled production circumstances. This 'special edition' is the one version coming with this package, and if you are like me you might consider this wasted space, as at least I'm not at all interested in what Mr. Seydor feels might be great. The idleness of this whole attempt is mirrored in the commentary tracks, where most of the time is wasted with repeated explanations about what a directors cut and a fine cut are, why the theatrical release is more of the latter and the directors cut is flawed in various respects etcetera etcetera, in an obvious, lengthy and tiresome attempt to justify that very 'special edition'. Thoroughly painful to listen to, and I had rather watched the theatrical release and judged for myself. Something Mr. Seydor and his production staff apparently think I am resp. we are not able to, or else they simply would have included the theatrical release and spared us their cut.

That said, the other version coming with this package is the Turner version, also known as the director's cut, and it's a blessing this version is finally available on DVD. In spite of all the blabber about supposed flaws this movie is a true classic.
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5 Comments 65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
...in fact it's my personal favorite. Slow and majestic, yet gritty and tough with plenty to say about how the times were/are a-changin' (there's certainly parallels to be drawn with Peckinpah and the studio system). This director's cut is an improvement in many ways over the studio-butchered original, but, sadly, we do lose the scene where Slim Pickens' character dies to the soundtrack of Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". A pity.
Dylan, by the way, gives an enjoyably eccentric (Chaplinesque?) performance, but the real stars here are Kristofferson and Coburn (which, as they're playing the title roles, is as it should be). Both are first class.
Highlights include the Kid singing to the townsfolk of Lincoln after he's tricked the guards, and the scene where Garrett makes Alias read out the labels of a whole shelf of canned goods. And the inevitable finale still manages to be wonderful cinema.
"What you want and what you get are two different things!" - Well, Peckinpah certainly found that out when the film was first released, but this cut is something else. Rent or buy as soon as you can.
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Format: DVD
I agree fully with everything Olga, the previous reviewer, says about Peckinpah's terrific film, with one exception. I do not regard Bob Dylan's participation in the film as unfortunate. Dylan's acting, while certainly limited, never detracts or draws attention from the essence of any scene, and his musical score is brilliant, augmenting Peckinpah's atmospheric camera work perfectly. The difficulties the producers had in working with Dylan on the film have been well documented, and I don't dispute those. I can only say that I love the work that resulted. Dylan had great respect for Peckinpah and his methods, though he had little patience for the way great movies are made, and he had downright disgust, as Peckinpah did, for the more commercial vicissitudes of Hollywood.

Yes, the Wild Bunch is great too in its own respect, but I give the edge to this film. I never grow tired of watching it. Certainly it is at least one of the all time great westerns.
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