Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah, 1973)

Not sure why they didn’t just use the 88 cut and “finish” it by adding some of the music. The song was definitely present in the theatrical cut.

I think Peckinpah vacillated over it. Jerry Fielding didn’t like it. Perhaps it would have been in the TCM cut otherwise.

I gave my take earlier in this thread:

Going by the mantra of dialogue basically being icing on the cake (i.e. a great film should still be pretty good even when watched in a language one doesn’t understand), then [Jerry] Fielding makes a good point [that the scene speaks for itself]. However, the reference is more oblique with song lyrics than dialogue so perhaps it’s easier to get away with it. Personally I found it obtrusive even when Leone included just the single word “Yesterday” in OUATIA, but I remember quite liking the inclusion of the lyrics to “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” here. I think I’ll need to watch both versions back-to-back to compare. Either way, it’s one helluva great scene and I’m glad no-one actually says anything!

Regarding the theatrical version of Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, nowadays one can get the impression that this film did not get any recognition before a longer cut appeared in 1988, but that is not true. Peckinpah’s film found a lot of admirers from the beginning on. Having returned to Hardy’s Western encyclopedia, I also reread his entry about Pat Garrett, which was written before the longer cut was released, and it starts with “A masterpiece, despite being mangled” and ends with “This film is essential viewing”. I easily agree, and in between there is this quote: "Peckinpah offers what one critic has called ‘a paralysed epic’ ". Paralysed epic, that wonderfully describes the fatalistic view of the film, in which (unlike the exploding The Wild Bunch) everything implodes.

The theatrical cut is actually very good. Although I am more partial to the Preview version, I understand why a lot was removed. I think it works better without the sequence with the prostitutes, which comes across looking more like a cheap softcore porno to me. I’ve watched the film several times again recently and I think every version has its charm depending on my mood. The scene that the theatrical cut really does miss the most, however, is the one with Chisum.
I can definitely see Pat Garrett being revisited in the future when it finally gets a Blu-ray. I hope that the theatrical cut is included. It’s strange that it has been confined to VHS and Betamax tapes.

Yes, for me the essential misses of the shorter version are the framing montage and indeed the Chisum scene.
I even think that could be the perfect version, with some bits here and there added.

And the Ruthie Lee scene, which comes directly before the orgy and which is oddly missing in the longer version, is better and more important than any of the other scenes which are not in the theatrical version.

If you ask me, this scene is far less interesting than some of the dialogue that can only be found in the preview cut. The theatrical cut works very well but it would be perfect if it had the Chisum scene and some of the humour. Why did they cut the line, “he needs one to get it up and four to get it down”? (I’m probably misquoting it but you will remember the line). It’s the script that makes this film so watchable.
By the way, am I right that the “bunkhouse scene” you refer to is the one that shows Poe interrogating the men? I actually don’t think it’s out of place at all and would work well next to to the Ruthie Lee scene. I think both scenes were intended to be cut together.

[quote=“The_Man_With_a_Name, post:167, topic:356, full:true”]

If you ask me, this scene is far less interesting than some of the dialogue that can only be found in the preview cut. The theatrical cut works very well but it would be perfect if it had the Chisum scene and some of the humour. Why did they cut the line, “he needs one to get it up and four to get it down”? (I’m probably misquoting it but you will remember the line). It’s the script that makes this film so watchable.[/quote]

For me it is at first the directing, like in all Peckinpah films. Even if it is kinda true that some of the scenes are not that well directed compared to Peckinpah’s previous films. And some of the editing of the violence and the action should be done different, are not so brilliantly intercut like Peckinpah did this in his other films. But of course the script is filled with strong ideas.

He he, actually I don’t remember that line …

The Ruthie Lee scene is interesting for the way Pat behaves, I always liked that one.

Apart from being one of the weaker directed scenes, it is out of place because it changes the narrative point of view. Every other scene is about Pat or Billy, but this scene has neither of them, and if one breaks such a point of view (and some films do such things by purpose) he should have a good explanation for that. I have none.
And this scene has nothing of any importance to tell, so it just slows the film down.

Funnily enough, I was just thinking of this film after watching My Name is Nobody a few weeks ago. I was wondering if the slow motion shot of Nobody shooting the glass in the bar scene was inspired by the shot of Billy the Kid shooting the dimes into the the lawman. They’re both slow motion shots towards the camera and the grave with Pecinpah’s name shows Tonino Valerii was familiar with him.