Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), directed by Sam Peckinpah, stars James Coburn (Pat Garrett), Kris Kristofferson (Billy the Kid), Richard Jaeckel (Sheriff Kip McKinney), Katy Jurado (Mrs. Baker), Barry Sullivan (Chisum), Jason Robards (Govenor Wallace), Bob Dylan (Alias), and Rita Coolidge (Maria), among sundry others.
Pat Garrett dispatched Billy the Kid back in 1881. Historical accounts claim that Garrett was elected sheriff of Lincoln County and set off with a posse to arrest Billy. The bounty was reportedly for 500 dollars. This movie is a fairly accurate account of the sequence of events, or a pretty accurate account of the way the story is re-told. Who knows what is true?
Peckinpah is one of those directors that you can't really say anything bad about since his status is so cemented in the critical canon. Far be it from me to argue with that, not that I feel any particular need to.
This movie had trouble in production; the studio wanted one thing, the director another, and that usually makes for some serious cutting and arguing. Sometimes time is actually on the director's side; as they gain notoriety they can re-cut and re-edit and make something more like what they actually wanted to begin with.
Watching this movie over 30 years after it was made is actually more interesting for that reason as well. I get the feeling that Peckinpah wanted to make a ballad. There are too many atmospheric scenes and the landscape is as much a character as the interminably slouching figure of Kris Kristofferson. James Coburn is just the right kind of disaffected and worn-down and you can sense the fatigue there as clear as day. Bob Dylan's Alias is the perfect trickster character with his odd ways and strange intonation.