Gore Vidal’s Billy the Kid (Turner Home Entertainment) is what some might refer to as a romanticized version of Billy’s tale. I, for one, believe that Vidal did some fantasizing, too. After all, Billy the Kid/William Bonney is known for being a really miserable punk, who shot people in the back, rustled cattle and stole horses. Historically speaking, even criminals like Jesse James, had no good word for this Billy the Kid character. Nineteen or not, he was unspeakably bad!
However, if you enjoy Westerns, you’ll more than likely like this one. The cinematography was outstanding and the story-line is okay, if you can swallow Billy the Kid (Val Kilmer) as a caring and nice guy. Gore Vidal would like us to believe that poor Billy was “so” misunderstood in history prior to this film. There have been many questions to Kilmer’s voice in movies being electronically enhanced — I’m tempted to ask if his voice as Bonney wasn’t electronically ‘de’-hanced. Where is Val’s voice in this role? This, no doubt, is another of his Chameleon type characteristics. This man, Val Kilmer, is without a doubt capable of portraying such diverse characters and this role made me think he was doing a poor Kilmer imitation. He spoke through those wonderful teeth of his and walked as though he has a corn that was very bothersome. Story or none, Val still carries this movie — as he does most any he’s in. Any Kilmer fan should seek this out, if only to giggle. The only other memorable character has to be Rene Auberjonois’ role as Billy’s Judas! He is pitiful, as he should be, and quite the perfect betrayer.