Cast & Crew
When aging Pat Garrett becomes the sheriff in Lincoln County, New Mexico, the governor of the state expects him to bring down his old friend, Billy the Kid. Garrett and his deputies trap Billy in his hideout and force him to surrender. As the gallows are being built for him, Billy is tormented by a self-righteous deputy named Ollinger, but eventually he manages to escape from jail and uses Ollinger's own gun to kill him. Sheriff Garrett appoints a new posse to capture Billy again and some of them die in the attempt. Billy keeps running, but the relentless Garrett finds him one night near Fort Sumner where they have their final showdown.
Harry Dean Stanton
Jason Robards Jr.
The Avalon Boys
L. Q. Jones
Elisha Cook Jr.
R. G. Armstrong
Jesus Marin Bello
Edward S. Haworth
Lawrence J Powell
Harry W. Tetrick
Robert L Wolfe
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid - Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
Peckinpah bookends his version of the Billy the Kid legend with scenes of the broken lawman, Pat Garrett (James Coburn), reflecting on his own loss of dignity as capitalists shatter the codes of the Old West. The rest of the movie unfolds as a gritty memory, in which Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) escapes from a Lincoln, New Mexico jail and heads to Fort Sumner. There, he confronts his old friend, Garrett, who's been hired by the Governor (Jason Robards, Jr.) to bring the outlaw to justice. A mysterious newspaperman named Alias (Bob Dylan) is so seduced by Billy's mystique, he decides to tag along on the doom-laden journey. Peckinpah is especially pitiless, even by his own standards, as he carefully orchestrates Billy's inevitable demise.
Peckinpah viewed Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid as an allegory for the greed that had corrupted America - the pillage being conducted by its shady politicians. Whether that's readily apparent in the finished film is debatable. Perhaps Peckinpah would have made the picture he intended to make had he not been saddled (no pun intended) with MGM president Jim Aubrey, who was known to openly antagonize filmmakers who didn't toe the corporate line. In David Weddle's Peckinpah biography, If They Move...Kill 'Em, Coburn contended that Aubrey "would hire big-time directors and top writers and stars, and then step in and f**king destroy the film. He was totally irrational." Aubrey and Peckinpah together would prove to be a disastrous combination.
One of the loopier aspects of Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid is the chin-scratching presence of Dylan, the songwriting visionary who changed the face of popular music back in the Sixties. Dylan was originally recruited by screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer to supply some music for the movie's soundtrack. However, after watching and being awed by The Wild Bunch, Dylan asked if he could also act in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. As a kid, he said, he always wanted to be in a Western, and this seemed like as good a time as any.
It wouldn't be long before Dylan was wondering what he had gotten himself into. In the documentary, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (2003), Wurlitzer recounts Dylan's introduction to Peckinpah: "As we walked up to the house, there was a scream, and (Peckinpah's) maid ran out, terrified, and we heard a gunshot." When Dylan and Wurlitzer entered the house, they found Peckinpah standing in front of a shattered mirror, stark naked, holding a bottle of booze and waving a gun around. To make matters even worse, Peckinpah claimed to have never heard of Dylan (this seems unlikely, at best), and wasn't particularly interested in having him in his movie. Luckily, that all changed when Peckinpah heard a ballad that Dylan had written about Billy. Peckinpah loved the song so much, he wound up listening to it over and over again for inspiration.
The tone of shoot was set after a couple weeks of filming, when everyone gathered to watch the first batch of rushes. The footage had to be shipped to a lab in L.A. to be developed, so, at this point, not even Peckinpah had seen any of it. It became clear after just a few minutes that none of the master shots were usable - a faulty lens caused half the image to fall permanently out of focus, a mistake that wouldn't have occurred had Aubrey sent Peckinpah a camera technician as he requested. Peckinpah, who, along with everybody else, had been drinking tequila while watching the footage, promptly drug his chair in front of the crew, stood on it, and urinated on the screen. For the rest of the shoot, rushes would have to be viewed on a screen with an "S"-shaped stain in the middle of it.
Coburn describes what happened then: "Aubrey didn't know we were reshooting the stuff till he saw it in the rushes back in L.A. Then this big edict came down, 'You can't shoot any more retakes!'" But that didn't stop Peckinpah and his gang. "Well," Coburn continues, "we reshot everything that was necessary. But we had to reshoot it in the context of shooting the new scenes. We were reshooting scenes at lunchtime, we were reshooting at the end of the day, we were reshooting whenever we could.'"
The problems on Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid were of the Apocalypse Now (1979) variety- monumental setbacks that might have sunk another, less obsessed director. Rainstorms repeatedly halted filming and ruined sets. A large chunk of the cast came down with the flu (there's one scene that Coburn didn't even remember filming because he was so ill). The script was being extensively re-written on the set. Even Dylan inadvertently added $25,000 to the final tab when he went jogging and ruined a shot of the sunset that Peckinpah had been preparing to capture for several hours! The already boiling tension between Peckinpah and Aubrey increased with each new incident.
As the production drug on, Peckinpah's alcoholism and paranoia finally got the best of him. Reportedly, he would begin each morning with a big glass of vodka, just to stop shaking. Then, when he got to the set, he'd mix vodka and grenadine all day long, until he was in a rage. "After about four hours, Sam was gone," Coburn said. "He was a genius for about four hours, then it was all downhill." At one point, Peckinpah even posed for a joke photograph that he sent to the Hollywood Reporter, showing him lying on a hospital gurney while receiving a bottle of whiskey through an intravenous drip.
"On that film Sam created an atmosphere that was so poisonous," one crew member recalled. Peckinpah even had an assistant tap the telephones, so conversations could later be perused to see if any crew members were planning a revolt. He also flew actors to Durango and purposely kept them in hotel rooms for weeks on end, on full salary, just to get back at Aubrey. He even billed MGM for mariachi bands that he hired to entertain the crew...or, more specifically, to aggravate his nemesis in Los Angeles.
With all this agitation, it's a miracle that Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid holds together at all. Though not a masterpiece, it still contains moments of intense beauty and bedraggled poetry. As an accurate portrait of the man behind the camera, it can't be beat. One thing is certain - if you enter the world of Sam Peckinpah, you play by Peckinpah's rules. Even if they're not always coherent.
A note on the original theatrical release of Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid: For years the only available version of Peckinpah's 1973 feature was the studio-approved edit which the director disowned. Recently, however, Warner Video has released the studio version on a DVD along with a Director's cut of the film which is much closer to the version Peckinpah intended. The latter version has caused some critics to change their original opinion of the film. For example, David Thomson wrote in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film that "Pat Garrett is one of the great American films, entrancing, perplexing, and - may I add - growing: only recently, a letterboxed videotape came my way with a long, bitter scene between Garrett and his wife that changes my sense of the film (yet again). For there are versions of Pat Garrett, and there is a Peckinpah cult that delivers Sam's real or deepest wishes long after his death. Why not? So many of his films were butchered, adding confusion to plot lines that are often cryptic and episodic."
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Producer: Gordon Carroll
Screenplay: Rudolph Wurlitzer
Cinematography: John Coquillon
Music Score: Bob Dylan
Editing: David Berlatsky, Garth Craven, Tony de Zarraga, Richard Halsey, Roger Spottiswoode, Robert L. Wolfe
Art Direction: Ted Haworth
Set Design: Ray Moyer
Sound Design: Harry W. Tetrick, Charles M. Wilborn
Makeup: Jack R. Wilson
Special Effects: A.J. Lohman
Cast: James Coburn (Pat Garrett), Kris Kristofferson (Billy the Kid), Bob Dylan (Alias), Harry Dean Stanton (Luke), Matt Clark (J.W. Bell), Barry Sullivan (Chisum), Dub Taylor (Josh), Rudolph Wurlitzer (Tom O'Folliard), Chill Wills (Lemuel), Jorge Russek (Silva), Don Levy (Sackett), Aurora Clavel (Ida Garrett), Donnie Fritts (Beaver), Emilio Fernandez (Paco), L.Q. Jones (Black Harris), Charles Martin Smith (Bowdre), Sam Peckinpah (Will), Walter Kelley (Rupert), Rutanya Alda (Ruthie Lee), John Beck (Poe), Jack Elam (Alamosa Bill), Slim Pickens (Sheriff Baker), Jason Robards, Jr. (Governor Wallace).
by Paul Tatara
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid - Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
TCM Remembers - Katy Jurado
KATY JURADO, 1924 - 2002
Katy Jurado, an Oscar nominee and major actress in Westerns, died July 5th at the age of 78. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on January 16th 1924 as Maria Cristina Estella Marcela Jurado Garcia, daughter of a cattle rancher and an opera singer. Jurado started to appear in Mexican films in 1943. After 15 films in her native country, director Budd Boetticher saw Jurado attending a bullfight (Jurado wrote about the subject for Mexican newspapers) and cast her in his Bullfighter and the Lady (1952), her Hollywood debut. For much of her career Jurado alternated between the two film industries. In the US, she was memorable for the sensual energy she brought to roles in High Noon (1952), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) which was directed by Marlon Brando, Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and John Huston's Under the Volcano (1984). She was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Broken Lance (1954). Jurado's Mexican films were in a broader range of genres and included Luis Bunuel's El Bruto (1952), Ismael Rodriguez's We the Poor and Miguel Littin's The Widow Montiel (1979). She won three Ariel Awards (Mexican equivalent to the Oscars) and one special award. She was married to Ernest Borgnine from the end of 1959 to summer 1963. One of her final films was The Hi-Lo Country (1998), a contemporary Western directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Penelope Cruz.
by Lang Thompson
DOLORES GRAY, 1924 - 2002
Broadway and nightclub star Dolores Gray died June 26th at the age of 78. Her movie career was brief but consisted of high-profile MGM musicals which guaranteed her a place in film history. Gray was born in Chicago on June 7th, 1924 (and where, according to a common story, she was accidentally shot by a gangster as a child and had a bullet in her lung her entire life). As a teenager she began singing in California until Rudy Vallee featured her on his radio show. Gray moved to Broadway in 1944 and then to the London stage in 1947, solidifying her reputation as a singer/actress while constantly giving the gossip columnists plenty to write about. She had two small singing roles in Lady for a Night (1941) and Mr. Skeffington (1944) but didn't really light up the big screen until It's Always Fair Weather (1955) even though Gray reportedly didn't much care for the role. Her rendition of "Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks," which has her gunning down a slew of male dancers on-stage and kicking them through trap doors, is a genuine showstopper. Three more unforgettable musical roles quickly followed: Kismet (1955), The Opposite Sex (1956, which Gray turned down Funny Face to do) and Designing Women (1957). That was it for Gray's film career. She kept busy with TV appearances (mostly singing though she did one 1988 episode of the cult show Dr. Who) and a busy recording and nightclub schedule. In 1987, she appeared in a British production of Follies at Stephen Sondheim's request.
by Lang Thompson
ROD STEIGER, 1925 - 2002
From the docks of New York to the rural back roads of Mississippi to the war torn Russian steppes, Rod Steiger reveled in creating some of the most overpowering and difficult men on the screen. He could be a total scoundrel, embodying Machiavelli's idiom that "it's better to be feared than loved" in the movies. But as an actor he refused to be typecast and his wide range included characters who were secretly tormented (The Pawnbroker, 1965) or loners (Run of the Arrow, 1965) or eccentrics (The Loved One, 1965).
Along with Marlon Brando, Steiger helped bring the 'Method School' from the Group Theater and Actors Studio in New York to the screens of Hollywood. The Method technique, taught by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, insisted on complete immersion into the character's psyche and resulted in intense, dramatic performances and performers. Steiger made his first significant screen appearance as Brando's older brother in On the Waterfront (1954). Their climatic scene together in a taxicab is one of the great moments in American cinema.
It was a short leap from playing a crooked lawyer in On the Waterfront to playing the shady boxing promoter in The Harder They Fall (1956). Based on the tragic tale of true-life fighter Primo Carnera, The Harder They Fall details the corruption behind the scenes of professional boxing bouts. Steiger is a fight manager named Nick Benko who enlists newspaperman Eddie Willis (Humphrey Bogart in his final screen appearance) to drum up publicity for a fixed prizefight. While the boxing scenes were often brutally realistic, the most powerful dramatic moments took place between Steiger and Bogart on the sidelines.
As mob boss Al Capone (1959), Steiger got to play another man you loved to hate. He vividly depicted the criminal from his swaggering early days to his pathetic demise from syphilis. In Doctor Zhivago (1965), Steiger was the only American in the international cast, playing the hateful and perverse Komarovsky. During the production of Dr. Zhivago, Steiger often found himself at odds with director David Lean. Schooled in the British tradition, Lean valued the integrity of the script and demanded that actors remain faithful to the script. Steiger, on the other hand, relied on improvisation and spontaneity. When kissing the lovely Lara (played by Julie Christie), Steiger jammed his tongue into Christie's mouth to produce the desired reaction - disgust. It worked! While it might not have been Lean's approach, it brought a grittier edge to the prestige production and made Komarovsky is a detestable but truly memorable figure.
Steiger dared audiences to dislike him. As the smalltown southern Sheriff Gillespie in In The Heat of the Night (1967), Steiger embodied all the prejudices and suspicions of a racist. When a black northern lawyer, played by Sidney Poitier, arrives on the crime scene, Gillespie is forced to recognize his fellow man as an equal despite skin color. Here, Steiger's character started as a bigot and developed into a better man. He finally claimed a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Sheriff Gillespie.
Steiger was an actor's actor. A chameleon who didn't think twice about diving into challenging roles that others would shy away from. In the Private Screenings interview he did with host Robert Osborne he admitted that Paul Muni was one of his idols because of his total immersion into his roles. Steiger said, "I believe actors are supposed to create different human beings." And Steiger showed us a rich and diverse cross section of them.
by Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford
TCM Remembers - Katy Jurado
You'll just end up like all the other gringos - drinkin' tequila, shittin' out chili peppers, & waitin' fer... nothin'.- Luke
Ol' Pat... Sheriff Pat Garrett. Sold out to the Santa Fe ring. How does it feel?- Billy
It feels like... times have changed.- Garrett
Times, maybe. Not me.- Billy
Won't some of you people get him up off the ground and into it?- Garrett
You made me have a bowel movement in my britches. I ain't never gonna forgive you for that.- Lemuel
Governor Lew Wallace (Jason Robards), was the author of "Ben-Hur".
Bo Hopkins was Sam Peckinpah's first choice for the role of Billy.
Released in United States 1973
Released in United States February 2006
Released in United States January 1991
Released in United States June 2000
Released in United States May 1989
Shown at Anthology Film Archives in New York City as part of Sam Peckinpah retrospective, June 6-11, 2000.
Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Closing Night) February 9-19, 2006.
Shown at Brussels International Film Festival January 9-19, 1991.
Shown at Film Forum in New York City (original length) May 12-15, 1989.
The 1973 release print was roughly one half hour shorter than the original version wanted by the director.
The 2006 "Special Edition" director's cut is in High Definition and 117 mins in length.
Released in United States 1973
Re-released in Paris (original length) July 18, 1990.
Released in United States January 1991 (Shown at Brussels International Film Festival January 9-19, 1991.)
Released in United States February 2006 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Closing Night) February 9-19, 2006.)
Released in United States May 1989 (Shown at Film Forum in New York City (original length) May 12-15, 1989.)
Released in United States June 2000 (Shown at Anthology Film Archives in New York City as part of Sam Peckinpah retrospective, June 6-11, 2000.)