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HISTORY

In a spoken foreword, the filmmakers state that this film depicts the true story of Billy the Kid. An article in LAT reported that J. Edgar Hoover offered to narrate the film. The same article noted that producer Paul Short wanted to hire Lloyd Nolan, Herbert Marshall, Charles Bickford and Mona Freeman to star in the film with Audie Murphy. According to prelease news items in HR , Dortan Pillar, Rose Turcel, Jack Ingram, William Fawcett and Ann Blyth were cast in the film. Some scenes were shot on location at Idyllwild, CA. General Lew Wallace (1827--1905), who was governor of the New Mexico territory from 1878 to 1881, was best known as the author of the novel Ben-Hur . For more information on Billy the Kid, please see the entry above for Billy the Kid ... More Less

In a spoken foreword, the filmmakers state that this film depicts the true story of Billy the Kid. An article in LAT reported that J. Edgar Hoover offered to narrate the film. The same article noted that producer Paul Short wanted to hire Lloyd Nolan, Herbert Marshall, Charles Bickford and Mona Freeman to star in the film with Audie Murphy. According to prelease news items in HR , Dortan Pillar, Rose Turcel, Jack Ingram, William Fawcett and Ann Blyth were cast in the film. Some scenes were shot on location at Idyllwild, CA. General Lew Wallace (1827--1905), who was governor of the New Mexico territory from 1878 to 1881, was best known as the author of the novel Ben-Hur . For more information on Billy the Kid, please see the entry above for Billy the Kid . More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Mar 1950.
---
Daily Variety
22 Feb 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Feb 50
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 49
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 49
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 49
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 49
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 50
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
8 Sep 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Feb 50
pp. 205-06.
New York Times
2 Jun 50
p. 26.
Variety
1 Mar 50
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 February 1950
Production Date:
late May--late June 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
17 March 1950
Copyright Number:
LP75
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
78
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Lincoln County, New Mexico, in July 1879, a group of men, led by gunslinger Minniger, confronts lawyer and rancher Alexander Kain and his partner Jameson in their office and attempts to arrest them for murder. Kain defends himself and Jameson, stating that the dead men were caught stealing cattle. He then warns the men that he will not stand for gunslingers running errands for his competitor, Major Harper, and Harper's supporter, Sheriff Rand. Waiting in the office is William Bonney, a young Texan known as Billy the Kid. When Minniger tries to take Billy's guns, he fires quickly, wounding Minniger and killing two of the gunmen. Later, Jameson offers Billy a job as a ranch hand. Billy tells Jameson that he ran away from his family eight years earlier after killing a man who defamed his mother. When Jameson asks Billy not to wear his guns on the ranch, he reluctantly complies. Later, Kain visits the ranch with his young wife Irene, and informs Jameson that he has been summoned to a meeting with territorial governor General Lew Wallace. While Jameson and Kain talk over their business, Irene engages Billy in conversation. When Kain sees them talking, however, he becomes angry and quickly leaves with Irene. In their meeting, Wallace informs Harper and Kain that he has come to New Mexico to end the range wars and orders them to keep the peace while he investigates. In the meantime, however, a drunken group of Harper's men who are seeking revenge attack the ranch. During the ensuing gunfight, Jameson is killed. Billy dons his guns and swears ... +


In Lincoln County, New Mexico, in July 1879, a group of men, led by gunslinger Minniger, confronts lawyer and rancher Alexander Kain and his partner Jameson in their office and attempts to arrest them for murder. Kain defends himself and Jameson, stating that the dead men were caught stealing cattle. He then warns the men that he will not stand for gunslingers running errands for his competitor, Major Harper, and Harper's supporter, Sheriff Rand. Waiting in the office is William Bonney, a young Texan known as Billy the Kid. When Minniger tries to take Billy's guns, he fires quickly, wounding Minniger and killing two of the gunmen. Later, Jameson offers Billy a job as a ranch hand. Billy tells Jameson that he ran away from his family eight years earlier after killing a man who defamed his mother. When Jameson asks Billy not to wear his guns on the ranch, he reluctantly complies. Later, Kain visits the ranch with his young wife Irene, and informs Jameson that he has been summoned to a meeting with territorial governor General Lew Wallace. While Jameson and Kain talk over their business, Irene engages Billy in conversation. When Kain sees them talking, however, he becomes angry and quickly leaves with Irene. In their meeting, Wallace informs Harper and Kain that he has come to New Mexico to end the range wars and orders them to keep the peace while he investigates. In the meantime, however, a drunken group of Harper's men who are seeking revenge attack the ranch. During the ensuing gunfight, Jameson is killed. Billy dons his guns and swears revenge for Jameson's death. Copeland, the local sheriff, forms a posse, and Kain asks them to bring the guilty men back for trial. During an escape attempt, Billy shoots two of the three prisoners and Minniger gets away. Rand then accuses Billy of murder, but Irene speaks on his behalf, and Kain reluctantly concedes that Billy was deputized at the time of the shootings. Later, after another gunfight with Harper's men, Kain, who has quarreled with Irene about Billy, claims that the gunfighter disregarded his orders. Wallace then hires Sheriff Pat Garrett to restore order and bring the fugitive Billy to justice. In 1880, Wallace meets with Billy in the mountains and offers him a full pardon, which Billy turns down as he still has not fully avenged Jameson's murder. In 1881, Billy is captured, tried and convicted of murder. Minniger tells Billy that he has claimed the reward money for his capture, most of which was contributed by Kain. Billy then escapes from jail and kills Minniger. He joins with his friends, Morales and O'Fallon, and continues to evade the posses on his trail. Later, Billy and his gang rob Kain's store of ammunition. While they are there, a posse arrives and blockades Billy in Kain's house. When Garrett arrives, he asks Billy to release the women hostages. Billy is willing, but Kain refuses to let them go without him. Angered, Billy forces Kain to tell Irene about his contribution to the reward and, disillusioned, she leaves with the servants. Garrett then burns them out. Kain is about to kill Billy, but a dying O'Fallon shoots him first, and Billy escapes again. Six weeks later, with twenty-one deaths to his name, Billy is killed by Garrett outside a home where Irene is staying. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.