Cast & Crew
A middle-aged man enters the small cemetery at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, and stands by the grave of William H. Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid. He identifies himself as Pat Garrett, the man who shot Billy, and recalls the events that led to his final encounter with the famous outlaw: In 1878, the Lincoln County cattle war, a bloody dispute between the rival Murphy and McSween factions, is almost at an end. Billy, who has been fighting on the McSween side, escapes during the final battle and becomes the leader of a notorious outlaw gang. While riding through the New Mexico countryside one day, Billy and his men find Pat fighting off an Indian attack and come to his aid. Later, in town, Billy is shot at by the sheriff and deputy, and he kills them, prompting a cry for justice from the angry citizens of Lincoln County. Pat, the newly appointed sheriff, meets with General Lew Wallace, the territorial governor, and advises him to grant Billy a pardon, as he did the other participants in the Lincoln County war. He argues that the incident with the sheriff and deputy was related to the war as well, since they were Murphy men seeking revenge on Billy. Although Wallace is concerned about the number of men Billy has killed, he agrees to a secret meeting. Pat calls on Billy's girl friend Francesca and asks her to relay the governor's message to Billy, assuring her that he considers himself Billy's friend and does not want to have to bring him in. Francesca delivers the message, and Billy meets with Wallace, who offers him amnesty in exchange for laying down his guns. Billy rejects this offer and returns to a life of crime, forcing Pat to go after him. Pat again appeals to Francesca for help, promising to bring Billy in alive and see that he gets a fair trial, and she reluctantly directs him to the gang's hideout. There Billy and his men are captured. Later, Pat testifies on Billy's behalf, as do Francesca and her family, but Billy is convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. While waiting for word of a pardon from the governor, Billy kills his guards and escapes from jail, with the help of Vicenti, Francesca's father. Pat and his deputies pursue Billy, but he manages to elude them until one of Pat's men sees Billy entering Francesca's home. While Billy and Francesca discuss running away to Mexico, the posse surrounds the house. Pat tries to arrest Billy, but when Billy draws his gun, Pat is forced to shoot him. Years later, Pat sadly bids a final farewell to Billy and leaves the cemetery.
Robert L. Lippert
I Shot Billy the Kid
I Shot Billy the Kid
The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "This picture is based directly upon the true facts in the life of William H. Bonney-'Billy the Kid'-outlaw and killer. Except for a few names and places, all characters and incidents are shown as they really were." Actor John Merton's name was misspelled as "Morton" in the onscreen credits. Modern sources credit Ford Beebe as co-author of the screenplay and add the following actors to the cast: Judith Allen, Barbara Woodell, Richard Lane, Sid Nelson, Frank Ellis and Carol Henry. For more information on the life of Billy the Kid, see the entry above for Billy the Kid.