Hollywood always loved ‘The Kid’

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What’s the difference between an in-law and an outlaw? An outlaw is wanted.

Which leads me to Billy the Kid, who was wanted on the screen many times by moviemakers who felt they could make a killing telling his story.

In no particular order, here’s a look at several of those depictions. Back in 1988, Emilio Estevez portrayed the outlaw in “Young Guns.” There, he was seen as a hotshot hothead.

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In 1968 on the big screen and, several years later on the small screen, Paul Newman portrayed him as a hooligan. The movie was, “The Left Handed Gun.”

In 1989, Val Kilmer was in a flick aptly titled, “Billy the Kid.” That was also for television. Country singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson co-starred in “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.”

On a side note, I interviewed Kristofferson, a Rhodes Scholar, and most of the conversation had to do with politics and the world situation. Stimulating. He was a very nice guy — easy to talk to, and eager to talk, as a matter of fact. It was like listening to a New York Times editorial writer.

Back to Billy. Geoffrey Deuel portrayed him in “Chisum.” That was in 1970. Twenty years later in “Back To the Future III,” the wondrous Michael J. Fox, as Marty McFly, did his shootin’ in an arcade.

In 1989, in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” Dan Shore was a stoned, hairy Kid.

B-movie enthusiasts saw Johnny Mack Brown portraying the outlaw in another movie called, “Billy the Kid,” the title later used by Kilmer. Chuck Courtney found the Kid fighting a land baron in — get this — “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula.” In the background, Bela Lugosi was spinning in his grave. That was in 1963.

In 1965, Billy was batty in a real must-see. Johnny Ginger was the outlaw in a title that must have thrilled English teachers everywhere: “The Outlaws Is Coming.” It was a trio this time, The Three Stooges. Ain’t that a poke in the eye? Perhaps they used deadly crowbars instead of guns.

The notorious outlaw co-starred with the notorious Jane Russell in Howard Hughes’ initially banned movie, “The Outlaw.” Jack Beutel had the title role. His career went down quicker than a bullet from a six-shooter.

The movie was banned because the censors of that day felt there was too much bustle in Russell. The 1940 flick coupled the big guns with big Jane, who later reformed, I guess, by singing Gospel music. Actually, she organized the “Hollywood Christian Group.” She conducted Bible studies in her home and appeared on the TV show “Praise the Lord” on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

She recorded an album of hymns and, at the age of 79, described herself thusly: “I am a teetotal, mean-spirited, right wing, narrow-minded conservative Christian bigot, but not a racist.”

She co-starred with Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” The blonde whom the gents preferred said, “Jane tried to convert me (to religion) and I tried to convert her to Freud.”


Here’s a bit of automotive trivia to round things out:

  • From the Department of Scary Statistics: More Americans have been killed on the highways than have perished at other enemy’s hands in all the nation’s wars. Cell phones are probably ‘upping’ those statistics. It is the local slow lanes that claim the most victims, because they remain the heaviest traveled.
  • If you travel enough you probably know this: When a highway number is even it goes east and west. When it is odd, as you figured by now, it goes north and south.
  • One day, in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found no drugs – just an Uzi submachine gun, several Russian and Israeli assault rifles, six automatic pistols, a .22 pistol, more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition, a hand grenade, burglary equipment, an electric stun gun — and a partridge in a pear tree.
  • We’ve come a long way, baby. On Jan. 2, 1900, Florence Woods became the first female to drive a car in New York City’s Central Park. The New York Times covered the event.