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Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

aka Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Directed By: 
Written By: 
Details: 106 mins · English · R (USA)


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In 1881 in Old Fort Sumner, New Mexico, William H. Bonney, known as Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson), is passing the time with friends shooting chickens for fun. An old friend of Billy's, Pat Garrett (James Coburn), rides into town with Deputy Sheriff J.W. Bell (Matt Clark) and joins the diversion. Later, over drinks, Garrett informs Billy that the electorate want him out of the country, and that in five days, when he becomes Sheriff of Lincoln County, he'll make him leave.

Six days later, Garrett and his deputies surround the small farmhouse where Billy and his gang are holed up. In the ensuing gun battle, Charlie Bowdre (Charles Martin Smith) and several other men on both sides are killed, and Billy is taken prisoner. As Billy awaits his execution in the Lincoln County Jail for the killing of Buckshot Roberts, he is taunted and beaten by self-righteous Deputy Sheriff Bob Ollinger (R.G. Armstrong) while the hangman's gallows are being built nearby. After J.W. Bell intervenes, Ollinger leaves to get a drink. Billy finds a gun hidden for him in the outhouse and gets the drop on Bell, shooting him in the back. He quickly retrieves Ollinger's shotgun loaded with "sixteen thin dimes" and shoots Ollinger dead in the street, saying, "Keep the change, Bob."

After Garrett recruits a new deputy sheriff named Alamosa Bill Kermit (Jack Elam), he rides to Santa Fe to meet with Gov. Lew Wallace (Jason Robards) who introduces him to several powerful men from the Santa Fe Ring. They offer him a thousand dollars for the capture of Billy the Kid, but Garrett rejects their money, saying he will bring him in anyway. Meanwhile, Bill returns to his gang at Old Fort Sumner where he decides to lay back for a few days. Soon after his arrival, Billy is confronted by three strangers looking to kill him; all three are killed in the subsequent shootout, helped by another stranger named Alias (Bob Dylan) who kills one of the men with a knife through the neck. Alias had witnessed Billy's escape from the Lincoln County Jail.

Meanwhile, Garrett meets up with Sheriff Colin Baker (Slim Pickens) hoping he can provide information on Billy's whereabouts. Garrett, Baker, and his wife (Katy Jurado) go to arrest some of Billy's old gang, and in the gunfight that follows, the gang members are killed and Baker is mortally wounded. Garrett looks on as Baker's wife comforts the dying lawman as he waits to die by a river. Later that evening, Garrett watches a barge floating down a river with a man shooting bottles in the water. Garrett shoots at one bottle and the two face each other briefly from a distance before lowering their rifles. Soon after, Garrett is joined by a glory seeking John W. Poe (John Beck) who works for the Santa Fe Ring. The two ride southwest to meet John Chisum, a wealthy cattle baron in the region, who informs them that Billy has been rustling his cattle again and killed some of his men. Billy once worked for Chisum and claims Chisum owes him backsalary.

Anticipating Garrett's arrival in Old Fort Sumner, Billy's friend Paco (Emilio Fernández) and his family leave for Old Mexico, soon followed by Billy. Along the way, he stops at the Horrell Trading Post, which is owned by an old friend. By chance, Horrell is hosting Garrett's new deputy, Alamosa Bill. After they finish eating, Billy and Alamosa step outside and take the ten paces, and Billy shoots Alamosa dead. The deputy's last words are, "At least I'll be remembered." As Billy continues south toward Old Mexico, he comes across some of Chisum's men murdering his friend Paco and raping his wife. Billy shoots them dead, and after Paco dies in his arms, Billy heads back to Old Fort Sumner.

Garrett and Poe stop at a saloon owned by Lemuel Jones (Chill Wills) and Garret tells Poe to ride east then south and that Garrett will pick him up in Roswell in five or six days. After Poe leaves, three members of Billy's gang come into the saloon. After killing Holly (Richard Bright), Garrett tells Alias to give Billy a message that they had "a little drink together." Garrett leaves and rides into Roswell where he learns from a prostitute named Ruthie Lee at a brothel that Billy is in Fort Sumner. Garrett then has group sex with Ruthie Lee and other prostitutes. Poe arrives and finds Garrett in bed with the prostitutes and is disgusted with Garrett's behavior. Garrett tells Poe to bring the local Sheriff Kip McKinney (Richard Jaeckel), who is an old friend, to the saloon where Garrett enlists McKinney's help. The three men ride north to Fort Sumner.

Garrett, McKinney, and Poe arrive outside Old Fort Sumner and wait until dark before moving in. Billy and Maria (Rita Coolidge) bed down in Pete Maxwell's extra bunk. While McKinney and Poe wait nearby, Garrett approaches the house, and hearing them make love, he waits outside on the porch. Later when Billy steps outside to get something to eat, Garrett enters Maxwell's house from a side door and waits in the darkness for his prey. After spotting the strangers outside the house, Billy goes back inside, sees Garrett and smiles. Garrett raises his gun and fires a bullet at Billy hitting him above the heart killing him, and then shoots his own image in a mirror. Garrett spends the night watching over the body of his old friend.

The next morning, the townspeople of Old Fort Sumner gather to see the lifeless body of William H. Bonney. Sheriff Pat Garrett mounts his horse and rides out of town, with a small boy throwing stones at him.

Twenty-eight years later in 1909 near Las Cruces, New Mexico, Garrett is riding with some associates when he is ambushed and killed by men working for the Santa Fe Ring, a group of powerful attorneys and land speculators.

Release Dates:

DVD : 2006-01-10