powered by AFI
In Lincoln County, New Mexico, in July 1879, a group of men, led by gunslinger Minniger, confronts lawyer and rancher Alexander Kain and his partner Jameson in their office and attempts to arrest them for murder. Kain defends himself and Jameson, stating that the dead men were caught stealing cattle. He then warns the men that he will not stand for gunslingers running errands for his competitor, Major Harper, and Harper's supporter, Sheriff Rand. Waiting in the office is William Bonney, a young Texan known as Billy the Kid. When Minniger tries to take Billy's guns, he fires quickly, wounding Minniger and killing two of the gunmen. Later, Jameson offers Billy a job as a ranch hand. Billy tells Jameson that he ran away from his family eight years earlier after killing a man who defamed his mother. When Jameson asks Billy not to wear his guns on the ranch, he reluctantly complies. Later, Kain visits the ranch with his young wife Irene, and informs Jameson that he has been summoned to a meeting with territorial governor General Lew Wallace. While Jameson and Kain talk over their business, Irene engages Billy in conversation. When Kain sees them talking, however, he becomes angry and quickly leaves with Irene. In their meeting, Wallace informs Harper and Kain that he has come to New Mexico to end the range wars and orders them to keep the peace while he investigates. In the meantime, however, a drunken group of Harper's men who are seeking revenge attack the ranch. During the ensuing gunfight, Jameson is killed. Billy dons his guns and swears revenge for Jameson's death. Copeland, the local sheriff, forms a posse, and Kain asks them to bring the guilty men back for trial. During an escape attempt, Billy shoots two of the three prisoners and Minniger gets away. Rand then accuses Billy of murder, but Irene speaks on his behalf, and Kain reluctantly concedes that Billy was deputized at the time of the shootings. Later, after another gunfight with Harper's men, Kain, who has quarreled with Irene about Billy, claims that the gunfighter disregarded his orders. Wallace then hires Sheriff Pat Garrett to restore order and bring the fugitive Billy to justice. In 1880, Wallace meets with Billy in the mountains and offers him a full pardon, which Billy turns down as he still has not fully avenged Jameson's murder. In 1881, Billy is captured, tried and convicted of murder. Minniger tells Billy that he has claimed the reward money for his capture, most of which was contributed by Kain. Billy then escapes from jail and kills Minniger. He joins with his friends, Morales and O'Fallon, and continues to evade the posses on his trail. Later, Billy and his gang rob Kain's store of ammunition. While they are there, a posse arrives and blockades Billy in Kain's house. When Garrett arrives, he asks Billy to release the women hostages. Billy is willing, but Kain refuses to let them go without him. Angered, Billy forces Kain to tell Irene about his contribution to the reward and, disillusioned, she leaves with the servants. Garrett then burns them out. Kain is about to kill Billy, but a dying O'Fallon shoots him first, and Billy escapes again. Six weeks later, with twenty-one deaths to his name, Billy is killed by Garrett outside a home where Irene is staying.