Young Guns II (1990) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|There was enough material in the
life of Billy the Kid to make two films, and this is the
second one. The first dealt with his participation in the
famous Lincoln County Range War, and the second is
basically yet another retelling of his relationship with
Pat Garrett, his one time sidekick who became a lawman
and eventually hunted ol' Billy down. Or did he?
This follows the same general revisionist tone, which portrays Billy as a sweet nutty guy, loyal to his friends, who could have worked it all out if he had only gotten to a shrink. This is pretty much the official outlaw cliche of the 1980's and 1990's.
The cinematic "hook" is that Billy was not actually killed by Garrett, but was in fact Brushy Bill Roberts, a real-life old geezer who claimed to be the real Billy as late as 1950. Brushy Bill's version of the story was that his old pal Garrett helped him fake his death by killing a guy named Billy Barlow, and after that The Kid (who spoke fluent Spanish) high-tailed it into Viejo Mejico, where he spent much of the rest of his life hiding out and eating gassy foods.
( ... And some other very cool stuff, like riding with Buffalo Bill Cody and Pancho Villa! Brushy Bill himself would make for a good movie subject.)
If you're interested in the real Brushy Bill story, here's a link for a pretty detailed biography of Brushy. Right or wrong, the site builds the case that the Brushmeister was The Kid, and it seems pretty convincing to someone like me who is not a scholar on the subject and/or and has not read any other viewpoints. It would be interesting to see a debate on this issue.
Here is another site which presents various levels of proof, including some scientific comparisons of photographs of the two men and their handwriting. Again, I haven't heard from the other side of the argument, but it seems to be a reasonable case.
|As for the
movie itself, it's disappointing. It isn't a bad movie,
but it uses all the usual western cliches except for the
fact that Billy and his gang were not hardened criminals,
but just kids playing with guns.
The biggest failing is that it had some good ideas for the character studies, as well as some appropriate actors to play the parts, but it just kind of got lost in its own maze and failed to deliver on the key points.
They picked up and dropped the ball on the conflicts between Billy's gang members - the Indian and the racist; the two guys who both thought they were the leader; the pseudo-poet and the illiterates.
other hand, I watched it all the way through without the
FF button, and I even watched a couple of scenes over
again because they were clever, and because the
performers created some interesting characters on their
own, without much help from the script.
There were are few Butch Cassidy one-liners, and enough action to justify the film. Billy busted out of jail or busted his associates out several times, and that was all pretty much true to the facts.
|One minor set of
In these revisionist Westerns, does everyone outside the gang have to be a racist, greedy, swine? It's amazing that the West ever attained any civilization when all the judges, rich men, and sheriffs were corrupt and stupid. If you believe the new-wave movies, the outlaws were the most complex and sensitive citizens of the West.
Except for the Native Amercans. The Indians are always seen as wise men living in harmony with nature. This is apparently to atone for the racism of the early Westerns, in which the Indians were all brutal savages who raped and tortured every chance they got.
And, of course, if the filmmakers introduce any black guys, you know they are going to be sensitive, intelligent, perceptive and gentle fellows, rather like Christopher Marlowe with a really good tan.
But those white authority figures in the Ol' West were some seriously orn'ry sidewinders.
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