Billy the Kid Born this day, 1859.  “Billy The Kid” the Movie, Premiered, 1930.

Billy the Kid Born this day, 1859.  “Billy The Kid” the Movie, Premiered, 1930.

Monday Morning Movie Flashback..

BILLY THE KID; 1930; Studio: MGM; Director: King Vidor; Cast:  John Mack Brown, Wallace Beery, Kay Johnson

This pre-Code film examines the relationship between the legendary outlaw, also known as William Bonney (his real name was Henry McCarty) and the man that would one day be his killer, Pat Garrett.  The movie was partly based on a book by Walter Noble Burns, The Saga of Billy the Kid, and took advantage of a then-new widescreen format that helped to capture the grandeur of the Old West.  Unfortunately, that widescreen version is not known to still exist today, and only a more standard format of the film – shot simultaneously – survives.

As for Burns ’book, it’s not strictly historically accurate, but was based on first-hand interviews that the Chicago newspaperman conducted with people who actually knew Billy the Kid.  The film itself took an even greater liberty, changing Billy’s fate to allow him to ride off into the sunset…but only in the US release;  in Europe, moviegoers saw the Kid gunned down by Garrett as in the history books.  “Before I die, I’m gonna shoot down like a dog every man that had anything to do with this.”

Movie commentary provided by Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg.  Dr. Blumberg is an educator, publisher, author, comic book and pop culture historian, and former museum curator.  He is the author or co-author of Journey of the Living Dead, Zombiemania, and Howe’s Transcendental Toybox.  He was the editor of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, and also writes for and Fandom.  He holds a doctorate in Communications Design from the University of Baltimore and teaches courses in everything from comics and superhero mythology to zombies to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  You can find him on Twitter at @DoctoroftheDead