Young Guns (1988)

R | 106 mins | Western, Adventure | 12 August 1988

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HISTORY

The film concludes with an epilogue, in which the surviving members of the Lincoln County “Regulators” part ways. The scene is accompanied by voice-over narration from Kiefer Sutherland: “Advices from Lincoln report Jose Chavez y Chavez moved to California, where he changed his name and took work on a fruit ranch. Josiah ‘Doc’ Surlock was reported to have left the West for the East, taking with him a celestial bride, her mother, and fourteen brothers and sisters. Susan McSween went down to see both her husband and John Tunstall’s dreams to fruition by becoming one of the most prominent cattlewomen of all time. Governor Axtell was forced to resign by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Both the Murphy-Dolan Faction and the Santa Fe Ring collapsed. William H. Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, continued to ride, never leaving New Mexico. He was caught in Fort Sumner by the sheriff Pat Garrett and killed. Sources report that he was unarmed and shot in the dark. He was buried with Charley Bowdre at Old Fort Sumner. Advices report that sometime later, an unidentified person snuck into the graveyard and chiseled an inscription. The epitaph read only one word: ‘PALS.’”
       According to a 22 Jan 1988 HR article, writer John Fusco spent four to five months in New Mexico researching legendary nineteenth-century gunman, William H. Bonney, popularly known as “Billy the Kid,” which led to a screenplay about Billy’s participation in the Lincoln County War of 1878. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that several characters were composites, cutting down the number of Regulators from eleven to six. For example, “‘Dirty Steve’ Stephens” and “Jose Chavez y Chavez” possessed ... More Less

The film concludes with an epilogue, in which the surviving members of the Lincoln County “Regulators” part ways. The scene is accompanied by voice-over narration from Kiefer Sutherland: “Advices from Lincoln report Jose Chavez y Chavez moved to California, where he changed his name and took work on a fruit ranch. Josiah ‘Doc’ Surlock was reported to have left the West for the East, taking with him a celestial bride, her mother, and fourteen brothers and sisters. Susan McSween went down to see both her husband and John Tunstall’s dreams to fruition by becoming one of the most prominent cattlewomen of all time. Governor Axtell was forced to resign by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Both the Murphy-Dolan Faction and the Santa Fe Ring collapsed. William H. Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, continued to ride, never leaving New Mexico. He was caught in Fort Sumner by the sheriff Pat Garrett and killed. Sources report that he was unarmed and shot in the dark. He was buried with Charley Bowdre at Old Fort Sumner. Advices report that sometime later, an unidentified person snuck into the graveyard and chiseled an inscription. The epitaph read only one word: ‘PALS.’”
       According to a 22 Jan 1988 HR article, writer John Fusco spent four to five months in New Mexico researching legendary nineteenth-century gunman, William H. Bonney, popularly known as “Billy the Kid,” which led to a screenplay about Billy’s participation in the Lincoln County War of 1878. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that several characters were composites, cutting down the number of Regulators from eleven to six. For example, “‘Dirty Steve’ Stephens” and “Jose Chavez y Chavez” possessed traits of two lesser-known members, John Middleton and Yginio Salazar.
       Fusco first met director Christopher Cain when he was hired to provide uncredited rewrites on Cain’s 1987 film, The Principal (see entry). Cain committed to Young Guns after reading just sixteen pages of Fusco’s first draft, and suggested Emilio Estevez for the leading role, following their collaboration on That Was Then...This Is Now (1985, see entry). Although Fusco had a first-look deal at Tri-Star Pictures, the 22 May 1988 LAT reported that the studio passed on the project, prompting Cain to seek independent financing from Morgan Creek Productions, which was co-owned by Joe Roth and James G. Robinson.
       A 9 Feb 1988 HR production chart indicated that principal photography began the previous day in Santa Fe, NM, while the small town of Cerrillos, NM, was dressed to resemble Lincoln. Various sources reported the budget between $11 million and $13 million. The 22 May 1988 LAT stated that the production kept costs down by hiring local, non-union crew members and “otherwise unemployable post-adolescents” struggling with substance abuse to construct the sets. The 22 Jan 1988 HR estimated a schedule of forty-eight days.
       According to the 18 Jul 1988 People magazine, Tom Cruise filmed a “small part” for the picture while visiting the cast, many of whom were his personal friends, on set in NM. Although not credited onscreen, Cruise appears as a gunman during the climactic shootout scene. A 14 May 1988 Billboard item named Sam Shepard and singer-songwriter Randy Travis among the cast, while the 2 Mar 1988 Var indicated that James Horner was originally signed to compose the score. None were involved in the final film.
       Despite largely negative reviews, the 5 Sep 1988 issue of Time reported that the cast of young stars drew in $19 million worth of ticket sales during the first two weeks of release.
       Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, and Lou Diamond Phillips reprised their roles for Young Guns II (1991, see entry), also written by John Fusco.
       End credits state: “Special Thanks To: The New Mexico Film Commission, Linda Hutchinson, Director; J. W. Eaves; The People of Cerrillos, New Mexico; The New Mexico State Police; The New Mexico Mounted Patrol; The New Mexico Highway Department; The United States Forest Service; The United States Bureau of Land Management; The United States Army Corps of Engineers; Helen Uffner; Nigel Wooll.” A dedication reads: “This film is dedicated to the memory of James C. Welsh, May 7, 1931 -- March 13, 1988.”
       First assistant director Charles Myers is credited onscreen simply as “Myers," while the name of Regulator Charlie Bowdre was changed to "Charley" for the film.
       Although the 12 Aug 1988 NYT and HR reviews listed conflicting running times of ninety-seven and 102 minutes, the print viewed by AFI for this record was 106 minutes. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Billboard
14 May 1988.
---
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1988
p. 1, 140.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1988
p. 4, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1988
p. 3, 12.
Los Angeles Times
22 May 1988
p. 3, 34-35.
Los Angeles Times
12 Aug 1988
Calendar, p. 11.
New York Times
12 Aug 1988
p. 18.
People
18 Jul 1988.
---
Time
5 Sep 1988
p. 63.
Variety
2 Mar 1988.
---
Variety
17 Aug 1988
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
James G. Robinson and Joe Roth Present
A Morgan Creek Production of
A Christopher Cain Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl cam op
1st cam asst
1st cam asst
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Gaffer
Best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
2d asst film ed
Ed intern
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead dresser
Set dresser
Scenic artist
Asst scenic artist
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const supv
Const coord
Const foreman
Paint coord
Paint foreman
Shop foreman
Labor foreman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
Laborer
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Asst ward supv
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward coord
Cost const supv
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress
Dyes coord
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus ed
Mus rec and mixed by
Mus rec and mixed by
Mus rec facilities
Hollywood, California
Mus rec facilities
London
SOUND
Sd des and supv
Sd des and supv
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Digital audio tech
Digital audio tech
Digital audio tech
Digital audio tech
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Facilities eng
Re-rec facilities provided by
Digital ed systems by
Digital ed systems by
Dolby consultant
Cable
VISUAL EFFECTS
Digital FX ed
Digital FX ed
Spec eff
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Title des by
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup and hair supv
Key makeup and hair
Makeup and hair asst
Makeup and hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Head wrangler
Scr supv
Unit pub
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod auditor
Asst prod auditor
Asst to Joe Roth
Asst to Christopher Cain
Asst to Emilio Estevez
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Animal handler
Animal handler
Animal supplier
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Caterer
Caterer's asst
Caterer's asst
Caterer's asst
Head medic
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Craft service
Craft service
Craft service
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Completion guaranty provided by
Set medic
Set medic
Security
Security
Security
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 August 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 12 August 1988
Production Date:
began 8 February 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Morgan Creek Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 September 1988
Copyright Number:
PA382755
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
106
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29341
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Lincoln County, New Mexico, English rancher John Tunstall hires a ragtag group of young gunmen to work as regulators on his land while he teaches them the value of education. The latest recruit, nineteen-year-old William H. “Billy” Bonney, joins Josiah “Doc” Surlock, Jose Chavez y Chavez, “Dirty Steve” Stephens, Charley Bowdre, and their leader, Richard “Dick” Brewer. In late winter, corrupt Irish businessman L. G. Murphy and his partner, John Dolan, falsely accuse Tunstall of stealing stock. The incident ignites tension between the two businesses, eventually resulting in Tunstall’s murder. At the insistence of Tunstall’s lawyer, Alex McSween, Justice Wilson deputizes the "Regulators” and issues a warrant for the arrest of Murphy’s henchmen. Unwilling to wait, Billy impetuously kills several of their enemies, earning the nickname “Billy the Kid” among local townspeople. Reading the newspaper, the boys learn that Justice Wilson has stripped them of their badges, inciting an argument over whether to continue their mission or avoid police capture. Dick is killed in a gunfight with Murphy’s man, “Buckshot” Roberts, and the remaining Regulators flee. Grieving the loss of his friend, Doc Surlock returns to Lincoln County to write Dick’s mother about his death. While in town, Doc begs Murphy’s Chinese ward, Yen Sun, to run away with him. However, the girl is too frightened to leave, and Doc returns to his posse. When Billy kills a sheriff corrupted by Murphy’s influence, Alex McSween warns that the gang is now being pursued by the U.S. Army. Although criticized for his bloody rampage, Billy hopes his actions will expose the state government’s misdeeds to President Rutherford B. Hayes. Over time, the other Regulators become weary of Billy’s recklessness ... +


In Lincoln County, New Mexico, English rancher John Tunstall hires a ragtag group of young gunmen to work as regulators on his land while he teaches them the value of education. The latest recruit, nineteen-year-old William H. “Billy” Bonney, joins Josiah “Doc” Surlock, Jose Chavez y Chavez, “Dirty Steve” Stephens, Charley Bowdre, and their leader, Richard “Dick” Brewer. In late winter, corrupt Irish businessman L. G. Murphy and his partner, John Dolan, falsely accuse Tunstall of stealing stock. The incident ignites tension between the two businesses, eventually resulting in Tunstall’s murder. At the insistence of Tunstall’s lawyer, Alex McSween, Justice Wilson deputizes the "Regulators” and issues a warrant for the arrest of Murphy’s henchmen. Unwilling to wait, Billy impetuously kills several of their enemies, earning the nickname “Billy the Kid” among local townspeople. Reading the newspaper, the boys learn that Justice Wilson has stripped them of their badges, inciting an argument over whether to continue their mission or avoid police capture. Dick is killed in a gunfight with Murphy’s man, “Buckshot” Roberts, and the remaining Regulators flee. Grieving the loss of his friend, Doc Surlock returns to Lincoln County to write Dick’s mother about his death. While in town, Doc begs Murphy’s Chinese ward, Yen Sun, to run away with him. However, the girl is too frightened to leave, and Doc returns to his posse. When Billy kills a sheriff corrupted by Murphy’s influence, Alex McSween warns that the gang is now being pursued by the U.S. Army. Although criticized for his bloody rampage, Billy hopes his actions will expose the state government’s misdeeds to President Rutherford B. Hayes. Over time, the other Regulators become weary of Billy’s recklessness and urge him to lie low in a small village along the Mexican border. There, Charley Bowdre gets married, and Billy meets a deputy sheriff named Pat Garrett. During the wedding reception, Garrett warns that Murphy’s men, led by George Peppin, intend to kill Alex McSween the following day, prompting the gang to quickly return to Lincoln County. Although Billy thwarts the assassination attempt, Murphy’s men and the U.S. Cavalry barricade Alex’s house. Yen Sun rushes inside to reunite with Doc, and Murphy orders the house to be burned. A shootout ensues, in which Charley, Steve, and Alex are killed. Billy, Doc, and Chavez sustain bullet wounds, but escape on horseback. Murphy curses as they ride away, and Billy abruptly turns around and shoots him in the head. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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