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Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / B2 / Japan


Poster Poster

A striking use of Japanese characters on this poster for Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 take on the true story of lawman versus outlaw, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. The film starred James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson and featured American musician Bob Dylan in his first film role. Dylan also composed several songs for the soundtrack and released an album of the same name that year, which featured the classic song ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’.

This was Peckinpah’s third western and it’s said that he wanted the film to be the definitive statement on the genre. Sadly, multiple problems beset the production, including budgetary and time constraints, malfunctioning equipment and sick cast and crew members. This led to a falling out between the director and the studio (MGM) and ultimately saw the film being removed from Peckinpah’s control. The footage was roughly edited and cut down before being dumped into cinemas, with an unsurprisingly poor critical and commercial outcome.

In 1988 a director’s cut of the film was released and led to it being given a favourable reappraisal from critics and many now hail the film as one of Peckinpah’s best. In 2005 a third version was released onto DVD, which combines the two cuts and adds in some new material whilst still running shorter than the director’s cut.

The original trailer is on YouTube.