Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid ★★★★

1988 "Preview Version" (122 min) watched for review.

Bleak and non-romanticized - Peckinpah continues his revisionist western vision following The Wild Bunch and Ride the High Country. After watching films like Rio Grande and Once Upon a Time in the West this month, PGBK stands in stark comparison - gritty and unique.

James Coburn is awesome as Garrett. Bob Dylan is kinda just distracting. The film has a great cast of supporting and cameo appearances from the likes of Slim Pickens, Jason Robards and Harry Dean Stanton.

I think the score by Bob Dylan works - though in the preview version some of his lyrics are gone. It reminded me of the all Leonard Cohen score in McCabe & Mrs. Miller in that it doesn't seem like it should work, but it does (although I found it was much more successful in McCabe).

Reading about how cut up the film was (there are 6 credited editors) and that the preview version, though close to Peckinpah's intent, is not quite a pure directors cut is frustrating. Peckinpah is a director that we may never fully be able to realize his greatness due to the fact that his films have been so butchered.

Will watch the special edition next time I re-watch... but never that botched theatrical cut which has all but vanished.