19 April 2012 | Michael_Elliott
Entertaining Spin on History
Billy the Kid Returns (1938)
*** (out of 4)
Pat Garrett kills Billy the Kid (Roy Rogers) but in another town a lookalike named Roy Rogers shows up and is mistaken as the real person. Rogers agrees to pretend to be Billy the Kid so that he can uncover a group of bad guys trying to steal land from the poor. This here was one of Rogers earliest films and as many reviewers pointed out at the time, there's really no question that crowds would enjoy his brand of singing and acting and it was clear that his personality jumped right off the screen and he was perfect for this type of character. He has to play pretty much two different roles here and I thought Rogers did a very good job with each of them. This includes playing a bad guy with no heart in Billy and the good guy who cares about those around him. Smiley Burnette gets the role of the sidekick and he too is charming in the film and adds some nice humor. Lynne Roberts plays the love interest and nearly steals each scene that she's in. She's plays the hard-working daughter of a hard-working store owner who just knows that Rogers isn't a bad guy. She's quite attractive to look at but she also gives a performance that comes across quite soft and charming. There's plenty of action to be had here and the majority of the gunfights are good, well-staged and entertaining. I'd also say that the cinematography is much better than you'd expect from this type of low-budget Western. Just check out the early scenes inside the house that is on fire. There's a shot of Billy the Kid firing guns with the fire and smoke behind him and it's a very good looking shot. Fans of Rogers will certainly find this to be one of his better films even if it's certainly not worth viewing as any type of history lesson on the real Billy the Kid.