Dirty Little Billy

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Movie Info

In this film, Billy the Kid is depicted as the homicidal mental defective that history has proven him to be. The film recounts Billy's formative years, exploding legends and myths all along the way. The Old West is not prettied up in the least; there seems to be mud everywhere.


Critic Reviews for Dirty Little Billy

All Critics (3) | Fresh (1) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Dirty Little Billy

  • Feb 06, 2009
    With shadings of John Schlesinger's <I>Midnight Cowboy</I>, <I>Dirty Little Billy</I> is another distinctively arty '70's drama of the type that Hollywood would never permit to be made today. <div style="width:250px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/dirty-little-billy-14021424"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/14/02/14/14021424_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <B><I>DIRTY LITTLE BILLY</I> (1972)</B> WRITTEN BY: Charles Moss and Stan Dragoti DIRECTED BY: Stan Dragoti FEATURING: Michael J. Pollard, Richard Evans, Lee Purcell, Gary Busey, Dick Van Patten, Henry Proach, Ed Lauter, Nick Nolte, Charles Aidman, Dran Hamilton, Willard Sage, Mills Watson, Alex Wilson, Ronny Graham, Josip Elic, and Richard Stahl GENRE: Western TAGS: character study <B>PLOT:</B> This speculative, yet credible account of early life circumstances and settings which molded Billy The Kid's character, provides a simultaneously harsh and empathetic understanding of his justifications for his future lifestyle. By not whitewashing the fact that The Kid was a miscreant blatherskyte, <I>Dirty Little Billy</I> is unique for it's credible portrayal of the outlaw as well as the abject poverty and deplorable wretchedness of the real Old West. COMMENTS: Exhausted by pointless farm work for a pauper's wage, a young William Bonney (Pollard) leaves the ranch to migrate to the big city -a vile, two-bit cluster of shacks on an open, cess-filled mud rut, populated by meek settlers, bullies, ruthless criminals and treacherous cut-throats. Billy promptly attaches himself to the town thug, Goldie (Evans). Impressed that Goldie's guns bring him respect and compensate for Goldie being a low IQ failure, Billy resolves to emulate the hooligan in every way. He commences by becoming Goldie's flunky. Marooned for the winter, Goldie, Billy and whore Berle (Purcell), hole up in a filthy, flea-ridden shack and pursue a tawdry, depraved existence. They pass the time in town by drinking, carousing, engaging in low-life hi-jinks, cheating at poker, and getting into a knife fight with professional gamblers which costs Berle an ear. Eventually, Goldie and Billy are forced to kill several plotting degenerates who are even more degraded and debased than themselves, before fleeing town, a few steps ahead of the law. The thrill of survival and the resolute justifiability of Goldie and Billy's actions in self-defense noticeably embolden the duo. It's easy to imagine how such an experience would have helped set the course for Billy The Kid's future path in life as an impulsive killer resigned to a criminal existence. Called a "revisionist Western," nothing could be farther from the truth in describing <I>Dirty Little Billy</I>. To the contrary, the revisionist pictures are idealized, mythological rubbish movies such as Sam Peckinpah's 1973 <I>Pat Garret and Billy The Kid</I> and 1993's Brat Pack vehicle, <I>Young Guns</I>. <I>Dirty Little BIlly</I> is the ONLY film ever made which comes close to accurately capturing William H. Bonney's (AKA Henry McCarty / Henry Antrim), circumstances and persona. Billy The Kid is shown for being the low-functioning, amoral, shabby, timorous little wretch he really was. Yet, importantly <I>Dirty Little Billy</I> portrays him sympathetically. While William Bonney was, contrary to comforting American fantasy, a flimsy miscreant, in <I>Dirty Little Billy</I> we see how the utter hopelessness of his situation; ignorance, poverty, morally destitute influences, and the complete savagery of his surroundings shaped him into becoming an avowed outlaw. <I>Dirty Little Billy</I> is one of only several motion pictures to accurately depict the Old West for being a sordid, tawdry, muddy, bleak, depressing, brutish, vile hellhole, largely populated by the intellectually challenged, amoral, violent dregs of society. Which it was. The 1995 film <I>Dead Man</I> with Johnny Depp is a movie which provides a rarely realistic glimpse into the types of depraved characters who populated the region, particularly in the opening sequence in which during his train journey farther and farther west, Blake's coach fills with successively desperate, increasingly savage passengers. Beaten down, filthy and unwashed, plagued by boils and lice, malnourished, illiterate, with hopeless prospects, and constantly preyed upon by outlaws, the true situation of many, who out of desperation or misfortune found themselves on the wild frontier, differs wildly from the ideal depicted in standard Westerns. <I>Dirty Litle Billy</I> unapologetically exposes this reality. Moreover, the film helps us visualize how Bonney, every bit as stupid and wretched as his environment, fit into, and was a product of his awful circumstances. Yet the film is significant because this presentation of Billy and the Old West ironically humanizes Bonney. Instead of robbing Billy The Kid of his true personality and denying his real motivations by imagining him to be a clean, strapping anti-hero ala the handsome and alluring Emilio Estevez in the immensely popular, yet ridiculously unrealistic and juvenile 1993 <I>Young Guns</I>, <I>Dirty Little Billy</I> permits him his real identity and circumstances. Widely misunderstood, this actualization of the notorious outlaw is the very component of <I>Dirty Little Billy</I> which makes the movie important and unique. <div style="width:120px;font-size:10px;text-align:center;"></div><a href="http://www.flixster.com/videos?videoId=11147252"><img src="http://i.ytimg.com/vi/411qV50ztww/0.jpg" border="0" /></a><div style="font-size:10px;width:120px;text-align:center;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"><I>Dirty Litle Billy</I></a> - excerpt</div>
    Pamela D Super Reviewer

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