Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid [VHS] 
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.
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
Top Customer Reviews
What really grates is that the new Seydor cut gets all the remastering treament (especially in the sound) while the real version is a standard transfer, none too wonderful with a horrible problem on the negative in the final scene.
The obvious thing would have been to use the director's cut, but give an option to splice in the Garrett wife scene & add the vocal version of Knockin on Heaven's Door to the soundtrack. But oh no, we have a wanabe genius in Seydor who thinks he can read the mind of Peckinpah 20 years on. The commentary (90 per cent of which is devoted to justifying the new version) and special features are rubbish. And Peckinpah is betrayed by minions yet again!
I'm not really a fan of westerns but this stands out as a truely unique and fantastic film regardless of the fact it's a western.
It's directed by Sam Peckinpah who also made The Wild Bunch. While films like The Wild Bunch and Easy Rider are regarded to have changed cinema (with unglamorous realistic depictions of their characters and dialogue) I think that this film tops them both. Virtually every scene in the film is a beautiful set-piece, with dialogue heavy with meaning and under-currents relating to the relationships between the characters. The cinematography is beautiful and I'm very glad that I'll finally have the film in widescreen as opposed to the 4:3 aspect VHS release. Bob Dylan is one of the characters and does the soundtrack - Knockin' On Heaven's Door was written especially for one of the scenes in the film. It stuns me that this film isn't better known and has only just received a DVD release because it's one of the most violent, poignant and perfect films ever made.
However, it is the "new" version that will be of most interest here. Some of the major complaints have been addressed, most notably the inclusion of Bob Dylan's absurdly/wonderfully famous song "Knockin' on Heaven's door" at the appropraite moment in the film's narrative. How many people have hummed or sang that tune over the years without even knowing that it came from this film?
For anyone who does not know, this is a very, very violent yet slow-moving film which was massively panned by all and sundry on its original release in the 70's. Over the years though it has grown in popularity and it is now fast becoming a rediscovered classic. One of the most striking things about it for me is its realism...we see toilets, baths, whorehouses, shared beds, food larders...basically its a warts and all view of life in the west. And it is not a pleasant place...
The underlying point of the film is of course the erosion of freedom caused by the establishment of private property during the formative years of America. The film mournes the death of the outlaw, in this case Billy the Kid (Kris K)being hunted down by the brooding Pat Garret (James Coburn.) Bob Dylan famously plays "Alias"- "Alias anything you want.."-and serves as a rather weird but highly entertaing medium between the two main protagonists.Read more ›
I have waited a long time for this classic movie, one of my favourites, to appear on dvd. I saw the original theatrical version in Bristol when it first came out, and then later the Turner preview version (which is the second disc here). Now comes this one. I don't have access to Sam Peckinpah's thoughts on the new version, so I have no opinion on whether this was the version he would have chosen, but it is certainly my favourite (so far - maybe there's another version hanging around??). The commentary on both versions - the 1988 Turner preview and the 2005 version - is well worth listening to.
The only omission I regretted from the new version was the line from Chill Wills about what his "woe-man" was prepared to do with cowboy boots. The editors admitted they didn't understand it - they confuse it with some joke once made by Earl Butz which got him the sack from the Ford cabinet back in 1975, but it's much filthier than that joke. I think this is a commendable commentary on the editors' minds, as it is is one of the filthiest lines I have heard in cinema, but missing it out from the new version detracts from the obscenely humorous passage. On second thoughts, maybe it's best to keep your mind as clean as the 2005 editors by not thinking about the meaning of that line, and for me to pretend I don't understand it...
You can also argue about whether the Dylan vocals of Knocking on Heaven's Door should have been added. Perhaps this is personal taste, but I was really glad the 2005 editors did. Dylan is central to the film, and his inclusion as Alias is needed - he is the silent witness, the writer of what he sees.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I know many consider this a 'lost' masterpiece, but to me, watching it just recently, it seemed like a ham-fisted, tired attempt to replicate the visionary power of Peckinpah's... Read morePublished 19 days ago by Mike Brecher
There are 3 versions of this wonderful movie, undoubtedly one of the 10 best ever Westerns: the original cinema release (shortest), the Director’s Cut (longest) and another version... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Lui