Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (11/2)

A fierce James Coburn and a sly Kris Kristofferson cut lean, mean, stark, duelling anti-hero figures in Sam Peckinpah’s wholly iconic and highly ambitious 1973 oater — one that, forty years on, has lost none of its emotional power and sheer macho gravity. Even for those allergic to westerns, this deeply moving portrait of two frenemies at war and at play is packed with infectious camaraderie. Kristofferson in particular here exudes a lifetime’s worth of devious charm, even when he’s gunning down the “good guys.” The amazing vibes aren’t limited to our stars alone, for Peckinpah also gives us a gleaming character actor buffet boasting L.Q. Jones, Harry Dean Stanton, Luke Askew, Jack Elam, Slim Pickens — and the off-kilter, but perfect choice of Bob Dylan (who also composed the film’s score) in a near-wordless, enigmatic side role. Crafted from a gem of a script by Rudy Wurlitzer (Two-Lane Blacktop), Peckinpah’s post-Wild Bunch masterpiece was initially butchered by its home studio, shorn of many key scenes and discarded by an unknowing public — but now can be thoroughly appreciated in this restoration cut of Peckinpah’s original vision.
Dir. Sam Peckinpah, 1973, 35mm.

Watch the trailer for “Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid”!
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