Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid


Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

Critics Consensus

Sam Peckinpah tips his hat in mournful salute to the bygone West in this somber showdown, pitting a James Coburn against Kris Kristofferson in a meditative game of cat and mouse.



Total Count: 20


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,638
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Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid Photos

Movie Info

A former friend betrays a legendary outlaw in Sam Peckinpah's final Western. Holed up in Fort Sumner with his gang between cattle rustlings, Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) ignores the advice of comrade-turned-lawman Pat Garrett (James Coburn) to escape to Mexico, and he winds up in jail in Lincoln, New Mexico. After Billy theatrically escapes, inspiring enigmatic Lincoln resident Alias (Bob Dylan) to join him, the governor (Jason Robards Jr.) and cattle baron Chisum (Barry Sullivan) requisition Garrett to form a posse and hunt him down. Rather than flee to Mexico when he can, Billy heads back to Fort Sumner, meeting his final destiny at the hands of his friend Pat, who, two decades later, is forced to face the consequences of his own Faustian pact with progress. With a script by Rudolph Wurlitzer, Peckinpah uses the historical basis of Billy's death to eulogize the West dreamily yet violently as it is desecrated by corrupt capitalists. Both Pat and Billy know that their time is passing, as surely as Garrett's posse knows that they are participating in a legend. Using familiar Western players like Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado, Peckinpah underscores the West's existence as a media myth, and he even appears himself as a coffin maker. Just as the bloodletting of Peckinpah's earlier The Wild Bunch (1969) invoked the Vietnam War, the casting of Kristofferson and Dylan alluded to the chaotic late '60s/early '70s present; the counterculture has little place in a corporate future. Also like The Wild Bunch, Pat Garrett was truncated by its studio; the cuts did nothing to help its box office. Key scenes, particularly the framing story of Garrett's fate, have since been restored to the home-video version. In this director's cut, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid stands as one of Peckinpah's most beautiful and complex films, killing the Western myth even as he salutes it.

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Kris Kristofferson
as Billy the Kid
James Coburn
as Pat Garrett
Bob Dylan
as Alias
Jason Robards
as Governor Wallace
Richard Jaeckel
as Sheriff Kip McKinney
Katy Jurado
as Mrs. Baker
Slim Pickens
as Sheriff Baker
R.G. Armstrong
as Deputy Ollinger
Matt Clark
as Deputy J.W. Bell
Jack Dodson
as Llewellyn Howland
Jack Elam
as Alamosa Bill
Paul Fix
as Pete Maxwell
L.Q. Jones
as Black Harris
Claudia Bryar
as Mrs. Horrell
Aurora Clavel
as Ida Garrett
Rutanya Alda
as Ruthie Lee
Rudolph Wurlitzer
as Tom O'Folliard
Gene Evans
as Mr. Horrell
Don Levy
as Sackett
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Critic Reviews for Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (5)

Audience Reviews for Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

  • Oct 28, 2011
    A good film though it has many flaws. When it's good, it's great.
    Graham J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 04, 2011
    An absolutely phenomenal western. Blows Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch out of the water. How could you not love a movie whose soundtrack is solely provided by Bob Dylan, who also stars in it? James Coburn is chilling, and Kris Kristofferson excels. The dark, lyrical atmosphere of the film is absolutely absorbing. There have been numerous takes on the Pat Garrett vs. Billy the Kid story, and this is certainly the finest. Deserves to be in the conversation among the top westerns of all time. Note: This applies to the 88' Turner version aka the Director's Cut, which by all accounts is the best version
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 12, 2010
    Young Guns was my favorite western about Billy The Kid.Now its my 2nd favorite.Im not an expert on Billy The Kid or Pat Garrett but from what I read this movie was more accurate & closer to the story & is most definitely worth watching once or adding to your collection if your a serious western fan
    Brody M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 05, 2010
    Such a beautiful movie, Sam Peckinpah captured the freedom and youth that Billy the Kid Represents. Nothing before or since has managed to properly tell the story of the two characters. James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson are perfect and give performances that are so unique and powerful, the movie is so effective in many ways due to their chemistry and effectiveness onscreen. The music by Bob Dylan also plays a huge part in the movie, the use of Knockin' On Heaven's Door in the shootout is just utter brilliance.
    Conner R Super Reviewer

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