18 April 2005 | Headhunter32746
Do not look to this movie for historical accuracy
This movie is Billy the Kid in name only. Anyone who has any kind of fascination with the Wild West or the historical William H. Bonney would do well to shy away from this flick. Almost all of the names have been switched around, the plot shares only a marginal familiarity with the true Billy and the lead actor Robert Taylor seems better suited for playing a 1930's era Chicago gangster than he does playing one of the most famous outlaws of all time.
Now that I've got my historical accuracy niggling out of the way - I still find myself unable to say many positive things about this film. But I'll give it a shot.
Some of the dialogue is rather inventive - and I do actually appreciate the relationship that Billy shares with ranch herder Eric Keating. There's an interesting exchange during Keating's introduction wherein he explains to a wary-eyed Billy why he doesn't carry a gun. Keating's naiveté rests upon a mythological ideal of frontier honor - an ideal that comes with a heavy price.
The movie itself is also wonderfully shot. The Technicolor treatment produces stunning visuals that can easily compare to westerns that are produced ten, fifteen, sometimes even twenty years after Billy the Kid.
Sadly, there simply isn't a lot of material available for Billy the Kid enthusiasts. Again, do NOT refer to this movie if you are looking to find insight into the true story of Billy the Kid. The closest you will probably come towards finding the definitive Billy story is in the 1988 fluff film, "Young Guns" and its subsequent continuation in "Young Guns II" - and even they take great spoonfuls of poetic license with history.