Former comrades Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid find themselves on opposite sides of the law when Garrett takes the job of a lawman serving the interests of a cartel of corrupt cattle barons.
Sam Peckinpah’s eulogy to the old west is a rather more laid back affair than much of his work. It is still liberally peppered with gun play and the celluloid may as well be steeped in testosterone; the female “characters” – such as they are – exist only to bare their breasts, service the menfolk and/or be slapped around. However, the story also has sense of melancholia as these ageing men of action see out their final days, increasingly irrelevant in a world they no longer recognise. The soundtrack also seems almost as important as the action onscreen, providing an atmosphere of nostalgic Americana with Peckinpah going as far as casting Bob Dylan in a supporting role despite the fact that as an actor, he makes a very good singer-songwriter.
Featuring a very strong central performance from James Coburn who shares an almost friendly rivalry with his adversary, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid will no doubt please fans of the old “when men were men” school of the traditional western.