Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Two-Disc Special Edition)
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved this movie. Very good story and very good acting. I wasn't sure about James Coburn as Pat Garrett, but he did a wonderful job and was very believable. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Katey
Excellent, poignant, chilling-reality, loyalty-busting , existential sad movie.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This movie is a steaming pile of excrement. First of all, Bob Dylan absolutely sucks in every way, so why would I want to hear a movie full of his horrible "songs". Read morePublished 3 months ago by Thoughtful Reviewer
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