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Movie Critic Review: Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (1973)

The Coburn-Kristofferson-Dylan Effect

Sam Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett And BillyThe Kid" is probably the most notable of the fifty or so movies that dealt with these two real characters turned lengedary merely by continued retelling over the years

Prepare for some overwhelming to happen as you will be dealing with strong character representations when you write or read about this movie. Co-stars (e.g. Katy Jurardo, Slim Pickens) are no less heavily impacting than stars (James Coburn, Kristofferson and Jason Robards). Well, and Bob Dylan? Bob Dylan in a cowboy? Actually I got the movie because of Dylan.The early seventies were "The Times They Are A Changin".  Although this was a sixties song!
Prophetic?
May be! But Dylan's role must have been crafted for him for other considerations than drama! And music!
May be the pursuit of lyricism or (the glorifying of it) was behind the choice of actors with
a background in lyrics viz. Kristofferson and Dylan.
But there are evidences in other Peckinpah movies of reference to politics.
Examples: "The Getaway" 1972, "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" 1974,
"The Killer Elite" 1975, "Cross of Iron" 1977, "The Osterman Weekend" 1983.
In this movie in question there is a scene in which Pat Garrett (James Coburn) recognizes some politicians and economists who involve him in the process of catching Billy and later have him followed up by a 'man of the law' to make sure that he is doing the right thing!
In the American West, there was a real character: an evil man nicknamed BillyThe Kid
(his real name was Henry McCarty) who was persuaded to renounce violence in response
to an English farmer, but when this farmer was killed by a gang protected by a 'man of the law', he rose against them and formed his own gang of evil men. Burglars and murderers. Untilled he was killed by Pat Garrett (who was once his friend) in an incident with controverted details.
James Coburn
Billy The Kid should be thankful in his grave to the strong performers with whom Peckinpah populated this grand cinematic piece. They were at least able to blur the boundaries between good and evil to make it easy for you to watch human beings untainted by any favorable colors. For this end, Peckinpah was successful to utilize the powerful presence of James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Katy Jurardo who was a crucial element in the Sherif Baker's death scene at the river which is one of the movies' most telling cinematic experiences of Peckinpah and due to which a lot of poetic interpretation (and tutoring) is spilled on YouTube! Kristofferson, incidentally, was a copter-pilot/songwriter who, it is rumored, only got Johnny Cash's attention when he landed his copter in Cash's backyard! He starred with Barbra Striesand in "A Star Is Born
Sherif Baker was aptly protrayed by Slim Pickens (One-Eyed Jacks with Marlon brando).
**** This is a great movie that every cinema fan must see and acknowledge the beautiful performance in it. Also feel it's texture and great camera angles.  Enjoy the coarse,gritty and rough (but yet pleasant and heroic) appearance of those cowboys (Katy Jurardo included)! And don't forget the big plus.....the music of Bob Dylan.
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 "Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid" 1973 (122 min,color)
Stars: James Coburn (Best Supporting Actor Oscar) Kris kristofferson,
Bob Dylan, Katy Jurardo, Slim Pickens, Jason Robards.
Director of cinematography John Coquillon
Original Music Bob Dylan
Directed By: Sam Peckinpah

From the links below you can get your DVD of this movie for a permissive price
or get the "invaluable" legendary collection of Westerns by Sam Peckinpah.
Or,
better still, and 'for a few cents more' get the Soundtrack of the movie by Bob
Dylan:



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