Billy the Kid is re-imagined by director Sam Peckinpah in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
as a kind of Old West rock star, a young man who wants to do his own thing but constantly runs up against the objections of the establishment--in this case, the cattle barons who run this part of the country. Peckinpah indulged in some quirky casting, including Bob Dylan as an outlaw named Alias and most of Kristofferson's band as Billy's gang. He also draws exceptional performances out of a cast of old veterans, including James Coburn as the reluctant Pat Garrett, R G Armstrong, Katy Jurado and Slim Pickens, who has a terrific death scene to Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Look for this longer version; the shorter version is the one that MGM recut against Peckinpah's wishes, removing all the character development and Peckinpah's elegiac sense of the Old West in favour of action and violence. --Marshall Fine
The old days of the West are passing, and outlaw-turned-sheriff Pat Garrett (James Coburn) is determined to move with the times. But with his former partner Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) still at large in the territory, and the wish of the cattle barons that the rule of law be imposed with greater and greater force, Pat soon realises that his initial compromise will eventually lead him to betray everything he believes in. With a soundtrack by Bob Dylan (who also makes his acting debut in the film), a screenplay by Rudy Wurlitzer ('Two Lane Blacktop'), supporting performances from the likes of Chill Wills, Katy Jurado, R. G. Armstrong and Charles Martin Smith, and direction from Sam Peckinpah.