Western legends Pat Garrett, Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid are played against each other over the law and the attentions of vivacious country vixen Rio McDonald.
Western legends come to life in this quirky and amusing western. Sheriff Pat Garrett, Doc Holliday, and Billy the Kid are pitted against each other at various times during the story. Billy and Doc vie for the attention of the beautiful Rio McDonald (Jane Russell), who was Doc’s girl but takes a liking to Billy when she gets to know him and nurses him back to health after he is shot. Jack Buetel plays Billy with Walter Huston portraying Doc Holliday, and Thomas Mitchell as Pat Garrett.
The western is a combination of action, comedic moments, and drama. It starts out with Doc finding Billy the Kid and claiming Billy has stolen his horse, Red. Billy denies it and soon Sheriff Pat Garrett is involved. One of the funny moments in the film is Doc acting as if he’s giving his horse to Billy, only for Doc to try to sneak the horse out of the barn right afterwards. It doesn’t go as planned though. Doc forms a sort of bond with Billy and this interferes with Doc’s friendship with Pat.
When Billy is shot, Doc takes him to recover at the home of his girlfriend, Rio, and her aunt. However, he leaves for a time and as Rio tends to Billy’s wound she begins to fall for him. In the meantime, Pat has a posse out searching for Doc and Billy. In one of the humorous scenes Rio’s aunt admits that Billy can be charming, claiming, “He can charm a bird right out of a bush!”
The film features a lot of great exterior scenes, with both cowboys and Indians giving chase to various characters near mountains and under blue skies. It features a few fist fights, gun fights, and characters falling into the river. It incorporates Indian smoke signals, which lets Doc, Billy, and Pat know they could be in for some more trouble.
In another scene, Rio is upset with Billy and when he leaves on his horse he soon finds out she didn’t fill his canteen with water, but with sand! Later, when he is about to leave again, he double checks to make sure she didn’t do it to him twice. This makes for some light moments in the film. She is portrayed as hot tempered. For example, in another scene she hits Billy over the head with a mug which causes him to stumble into the river.
One of the things that doesn’t work so well is that a few shots of the various characters drawing guns are sped up in the film to make them look fast and it doesn’t really work. Billy and Doc continue to bicker and it is not clear whether they will wind up as friends or enemies. Also, did Pat Garrett really shoot and kill Billy the Kid? Without giving the ending away, a possible alternative to what is known in history is suggested as a possibility.
There are various violent scenes, although not graphic, but several people are shot and killed and we see fights and characters hit with objects, not to mention a few smoking scenes, so the film has merited our Dove seal for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
Enjoy a few laughs along with some shoot-‘em-up action in this farcical and entertaining western.