Directed by Sam Peckinpah
USA 1973

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid may be the most beautiful and ambitious film that Sam Peckinpah ever made. The time is 1881. Powerful interests want New Mexico tamed for their brand of progress, and Sheriff Pat Garrett (James Coburn) is commissioned to rid the territory of his old gunfighting comrades. He serves fair notice to William Bonney--Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson)--and his Fort Sumter cronies, but it's not in their nature, or his, to go quietly. Peckinpah's theme, more than ever, is the closing of the frontier and the nature of the loss that that entails. But this time his vision takes him beyond genre convention, beyond history and legend, to the bleeding heart of myth--and surely of himself.
This is one strange and original movie. In 1973 most American reviewers responded by panning it and deriding its director, whom they saw as having betrayed the promise of Ride the High Country, been swept up in his own cult of violence, and become incoherent as a storyteller. Coherence wasn't helped by MGM's cutting at least a quarter-of-an-hour out of the finished film and removing a bitter, retrospective prelude. Subsequent releases have restored a lot of material, and now there's more widespread appreciation of the depth and power of Peckinpah's achievement.

Excerpt from Richard T. Jameson's review located HERE.


NOTE: When director Peckinpah saw a shot he did not like during a screening of dailies, he urinated in the screening room.


Theatrical Release: May 23rd, 1973

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DVD Review: Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:

 Included with Sam Peckinpah's Legendary Westerns Collection (The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Ride the High Country / The Ballad of Cable Hogue)




Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC
Runtime 1:55:08  2nd - 2:01:28
Video 2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.63 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  Disc 1

Bitrate:  Disc 2

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Disc One: 2005 Special Edition (115 mins.)
• Commentary by Special Edition Producer Nick Redman, Supervising Editor Paul Seydor and fellow Peckinpah biographers/documentarians Garner Simmons and David Weddle
• Peckinpah trailer gallery
• Disc 2: 1988 Turner Preview Version (122 mins.)
• Commentary by Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle
• 2 New Featurettes:
• One Foot in the Groove: Remembering Sam Peckinpah and Other Things
• One for the Money: Sam's Song

DVD Release Date: January 10th, 2006
Double slim Keep Case
Chapters: 24



The 2005 Special Edition makes a strong case in places. The scene with Garrett's wife is nothing short of essential, although we are told in the commentary that this was in the original preview cut and should have been in the 1988 release all along (it was skipped over due to the scene being removed from the original negative for network television use). The return of Dylan's lyrics to Pickens death scene is also a blessing - Peckinpah may have preferred Fielding, but once you go with Dylan you should go all the way; the surviving preview cut did not include sound and the decision to drop the Dylan lyrics was made in 1988. Some of the tougher editing and re-ordering of scenes also makes sense. I'm even quite partial to the new ending, although I'm not sure I prefer it to the old (preview) one which would seem from the evidence to be Peckinpah's favored conclusion.

And herein lies the problem. Rushed and rough around the edges as it may be, the 1988 cut represents a full Peckinpah cut of the film. The 2005 Special Edition is a speculative attempt to make improvements, some successful others very much open to debate. Since the theatrical opening credit sequence was a response to the removal of the Garrett death sequence, why bother including it now? It also seems strange to ditch the Poe interrogation scene due to the 'bad performances' when the Ruthie Lee scene that replaces it is far more clunky and unwelcome...
and why the hell they ditched the longer, meatier, funnier version of the scene between Garrett and the brothel owner for what is clearly a sanitized studio hack job is absolutely beyond me. Regardless of the temptations, I believe a respectful restoration would have restored the original preview version to its full glory (including Garrett's wife scene and possibly the Dylan lyrics) and left it at that.

None of which would matter so much if the 1988 cut of the film had not been treated with such a lack of care. The transfer is inferior, less clear and colorful, with far more dirt and visible reel change marks. Unforgivably, the soundtrack goes all wobbly at the end making the final 2 or 3 minutes practically unwatchable. Not good...

Excerpt from Thomas Clay's post in the Mobious Forms HERE

William D'Annucci says: The main problem is that no "real" finished version of PAT GARRETT exists. Peckinpah was working with a shaky script and an abbreviated deadline that gave him far too little time to make a fine cut. Peckinpah's friends and critics interviewed here dance around the sad fact that Peckinpah's alcoholism had gotten totally out of control during PG&BTK, leaving him with a scant amount of functional hours in the day. The version we'd all want, with Peckinpah at his full energy focus and skill displayed in the WILD BUNCH, was never fully allowed to happen.



Well, the shorter 2005 Special Edition has a strong brownish/sepia tinge that I can only assume is intentional. It makes skin tones much redder and removes some detail. More than that there are some large cropping issues noticeable with the 2005 Special Edition being the culprit. It is hard to make definitive statements as these really are two different films. I can only state that I, personally, much prefer the Turner transfer (which is also tighter to the frame) and that version of the film but it was important for Warner to include both, although Peckinpah fans may still be left wanting. 

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus - Disc One: 2005 Special Edition (115 mins.)

Disc 2: 1988 Turner Preview Version (122 mins.)


Subtitle Sample




Screen Captures


2005 Special Edition TOP vs. 1988 Turner Preview Version BOTTOM



2005 Special Edition TOP vs. 1988 Turner Preview Version BOTTOM



2005 Special Edition TOP vs. 1988 Turner Preview Version BOTTOM



NOTE: The rest of the caps are from the 2005 Special Edition








DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:

 Included with Sam Peckinpah's Legendary Westerns Collection (The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Ride the High Country / The Ballad of Cable Hogue)




Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC


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