Billy the Kid (1989 film)
|Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid
AKA Billy the Kid
|Directed by||William A. Graham|
|Written by||Gore Vidal|
|Music by||Laurence Rosenthal|
|Cinematography||Dennis C. Lewiston|
One of many depicting the events surrounding the outlaw during his participation in the Lincoln County War, this film, though little known, has routinely been described as the most historically accurate version to date. Written by Gore Vidal and directed by William A. Graham, Val Kilmer stars in the lead role of William Bonney a.k.a. Billy the Kid, with a supporting cast including Wilford Brimley, John O'Hurley, Duncan Regehr, and Ned Vaughn.
- Val Kilmer as Billy the Kid (William Bonney)
- Duncan Regehr as Pat Garrett
- Wilford Brimley as Gov. Lew Wallace
- Julie Carmen as Celsa
- Albert Salmi as Mr. Maxwell
- Ned Vaughn as Charlie
- Ric San Nicholas as Bell
- Gore Vidal as Preacher (uncredited)
Vidal said in his memoirs that he had written the original teleplay for The Left Handed Gun, starring Paul Newman as Billy the Kid, decades earlier, and always felt the studio had butchered the material when his television play was used as the basis for a theatrical movie, so he wanted to return to the story for a more accurate rendition. At the time of his original teleplay with Newman, it was thought that the real Billy was left handed. This was based on a photo of Billy that had been inadvertently flipped when printed. Years later, the error was discovered—Billy was right handed.
While receiving little general attention, the television movie was acclaimed by fans of the western genre due to its comparative historical fidelity. Kilmer was praised for his portrayal based on his extensive work to not only physically resemble William Bonney as much as possible, but also to capture his personality as related in historical accounts. This contributed to the film being widely recognised as one of the most historically accurate "Billy the Kid" films ever made.
- Goodman, Walter (May 10, 1989). "Review/Television - Vidal Draws a Bead on Good-Bad Old Billy the Kid". The New York Times.
- Billy the Kid at the Internet Movie Database
- Billy the Kid at AllMovie
- Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid, Review
- Film Bug, Val Kilmer
- Kilmer's Reputation for "Plunging into a character"
- Billy the Kid (1989) Trailer
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