Tag Archives: Billy the Kid

Paul Newman Western Filmography – The Left Handed Gun – 1958

12 Sep

Paul Newman only made about 6 Westerns (IMO). But most were noteworthy.

The Left Handed Gun (1958); Hud (1963); Hombre (1967); The Outrage (1964); Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969); The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972); Pocket Money (1972); and Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976).

Hud and Pocket money may be questionable as Westerns, but some feel the flavour is there.

The Left Handed Gun is just one of at least 24 films made about Billy the Kid. It marked Director Arthur Penn’s (Little Big Man (1970) The Missouri Breaks (1976)), film Directing début.

Confession: I have never seen The Left Handed Gun. As far as I can tell, it’s never (or very rarely) shown on TV. Western Film experts will definitely have seen it and can offer an opinion. I cannot. My guess is the experts would consider this movie a ‘necessary watch’ for any Western film fan. So I better catch up on it. As I’ve stated before, I’m a mere Western Movie fan – not an expert. For some real expert opinion check out my Blogroll.

But I know what I like.

PAUL NEWMAN

Screen Banner shot / Comic Book Cover / Paul

The Left Handed Gun poster

Poster quality in films can vary from the sublime to outright awful.
These two are not great.

The Left Handed Gun poster 2

Excellent publicity shots below …The Left Handed Gun - Paul Newman

The Left Handed Gun - Paul Newman 6

The Left Handed Gun …

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Reviews 

AllMovie Review The Left Handed Gun

AllMovie review and Synopsis (below)

Synopsis – by Hal Erickson

The Left Handed Gun was adapted by Gore Vidal from his own TV play, The Death of Billy the Kid. 33-year-old Paul Newman stars as 21-year-old William Bonney, the hotheaded gunslinger known as Billy the Kid. Avoiding the usual Hollywood glamourization of this controversial character, Newman portays Bonney pretty much as he was: an illiterate, homicidal cretin. Treated with kindness for the first time in his life by rancher Tunstall (Colin Keith-Johnston), Bonney becomes devoted to the rancher; in fact, it is virtually a love affair. Soon after, however, Tunstall is killed, prompting Bonney to go on a murderous spree. In the end, Bonney must face down the other important father-figure in his life, Pat Garrett (John Dehner). In case anyone should miss the Freudian subtext in The Left Handed Gun, the closeups of Bonney fondling his six-shooter will make things crystal clear.

The Left Handed Gun - John Dehner - Paul Newman

John Dehner as Pat Garrett / Newman as ‘The Kid”

John Dehner got a LOT of work over the years.
For good reason: he was damn good at anything he did.

Rotten Tomatoes Left Handed Gun

Rotten Tomatoes / The Left Handed Gun

IMDB The Left Handed Gun

IMDB / The Left Handed Gun

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Keep the change Kid ...

Keep the change Kid …

Arthur Penn - Director

Arthur Penn – Director

Iconic Itmage

Iconic Image – James Best at left

The Left Handed Gun - Paul Newman 4

Newman and Lita Milan … never drop yer Colt

The Left Handed Gun - Paul Newman 5

The Left Handed Gun - DVD

The Left Handed Gun – DVD

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid … Iconic Images 2

21 Sep

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid – Billy 7 – Bob Dylan

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid … Iconic Images 1

20 Sep

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid … Iconic Images: “The Kid”

18 Sep

Billy the Kid by Woody Guthrie

The Kid …

Jeremiah Johnson and Billy the Kid: Stranger than Fiction?

7 Sep

Jeremiah Johnson and Billy the Kid: Stranger than Fiction?

I doubt many care – or even that it’s all that important – but Robert Redford doesn’t look much like the real Jeremiah Johnson.

JOHNSON … REDFORD

However …  in most Westerns, it don’t really seem to matter whether the actor looks like the actual person – or not. There’s plenty of examples: Kris Kristofferson as Billy the Kid in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Kristofferson was too good looking for ‘the Kid’ – and was also in his 30’s. While the ‘Kid’ was … well … an ugly cuss  (if I can tell by the famous photo) and was about 20 years old … almost ‘a kid’. But, James Coburn didn’t look a whole lot like Pat Garrett … I better stop here. Great movie though.

So if likeness’ is a casting necessity … ?

Hell, maybe it’s just too darn hard to find anybody that ugly who can act.

A young Henry Silva actually looks a lot like ‘the Kid”.

SILVA … THE ‘KID’

In most other movie biographies though, likeness is important. For instance, If you’re playing Winston Churchill … Redford wouldn’t get the job … and also (hopefully) the chance to murder an English accent.

And I do admit that Redford’s ‘matinée idol’ looks did initially grate on me a bit when I first watched Jeremiah Johnson. I figured they should have cast somebody a bit more (or a lot more?) rugged looking than Redford. Someone like Tom Selleck maybe, or Lee Marvin. Bronson? (Trivia says that this movie was initially to star Clint Eastwood as Johnson – and be directed by Sam Peckinpah … WOW! … that would have been a different movie … punk) We didn’t get lucky.

Director Sydney Pollock, however, had a very simple philosophy about making a movie: Employ Stars. Star Power guarantees success. And Pollock surely knew Redford’s Star Power –  Directing him in seven movies.

And all in all … Redford did a great job: one of My Favorite Westerns.

The other beef I had with the movie was that the actual (supposed) true story about Jeremiah Johnson seemed more interesting than the movie version.

I suspect, however, that some of these ‘facts’ about Johnson pushed a few credibility buttons … and was hardly the stuff of ‘Heros’. “Liver Eating Johnson”?! Some believe Johnson actually did this. It’s said that the Crow believed that unless a body was intact that the spirit could not pass over. So Johnson removed the liver and … yet it’s also said that Johnson confessed once that this story was a story he propagated (to scare or anger the Crow?) But if you were a cannibal, would you admit it?

Possible. Probable? Believable?

I figure some of these ‘details’ were kept out of the movie because not only do they seem implausible, but they made the character – our Hero – a lot less of a Goodguy.

As the Crow flies …

Then there’s the story that Johnson killed over 300 Crow braves. 300?!! That’s a hell of a lot of empty Teepees. Let’s see … if the Crow sent only one brave at a time (as the movie suggests)… and Johnson killed one brave a month … it would take 25 years to kill 300 Crow. That’s almost as hard to swallow as liver. 30 would be impressive enough … and believable. But 300 … ??? You have to question it.

But who’s counting?

Johnson? The Crow? (I might believe their count). But Johnson’s …

Yet … maybe it’s true.

Billy the Kid’s myth labours under similar suspicious history. Some claim ‘The Kid” really only killed about 4 people … though folklore and myth claim about 20 … or more.

So … the truth is … we really don’t know the truth.

Yet again … sometimes the truth IS indeed ‘stranger than fiction’.

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