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The other most believable western I have ever seen.
Michael J. Pollard, (who inspired the J. in Michael J. Fox's stage name,) gives us a decent performance in a pretty original role of Billy the Kid, BEFORE he becomes a professional outlaw. Gary Busey was in this?? haw. This apparently is also an acid western, but I think that term only applies to this for having a gritty view of the old west and an american hero.
This little known western is truly a great film. Michael J Pollard chews up his role as the teenage loser Bill The Kid. Pollards a great actor and as far as i know this is his only headline-starring role?
The film has a really weird tone to it, almost documentary. Billy is portrayed as a loser-slacker. He is forced to runaway from home and falls in with a crazy bandit and his prostitue girlfriiend. Theres a great knife fight between the prostitute and another female. The violence is brutaly real! The knife sequence has you on the edge of your seat. Well filmed. And the film ends right were the Kids story really starts. Highly recommended!
This is director Stan Dragoti's only notable piece of work as a director, but what a rare achievement it is. "Dirty Little Billy" got lost in a wave of other revisionist Western's in the early 70s such as "Bad Company", "The Culpepper Cattle Co.", "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" and "The Hired Hand" and it's been collecting dust ever since and was never even released on VHS. This movie should be restored and released from limbo cause it's without a doubt one of the finest westerns of the 1970s. It's grim, violent, muddy and strangly comical. It might not be a historically accurate take on the Billy The Kid story but it's an unflinching meditation on adolescent debauchery, mischief, Sloth and the potential violent outcome of falling into bad company.The cinematography owes alot to Altman's "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" and the movie has a bleak and claustrophobic atmosphere. Every single character in this film looks dirty and almost sick and the mud covers everything. Michael J Pollard gives the performance of a lifetime as a young wannabe who's drifted west from New York with his family but falls into bad company after refusing to work on the farm. He's the other side of Kris Kristofferson's Billy in Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid". He's far from handsome, he's a coward and he can't even use a gun. A punk in every sense of the word. "Dirty Little Billy" is worth tracking down just to behold Pollard's great performance.
I urge everyone who reads this to track down a copy of this hidden western gem. It's a slice of raw, ugly Americana.
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
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>
Gritty and downbeat re-telling of the Billy The Kid story, with a great performance from a mangy looking Michael J. Pollard. "Dirty Little Billy" remains another lost classic from the 70s, it has never been released on VHS or DVD!