Billy the Kid (1941)

Genres - Historical Film, Western  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Traditional Western  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Hans J. Wollstein

MGM, in its heyday, never liked westerns much and when the studio made an attempt the results were almost always overproduced. None more so than Billy the Kid, which in addition to a change of leading man certainly could have used a bit of fresh air. Although Frank Borzage had filmed second unit footage at Tucson, AZ, and at Utah's Monument Valley, most of Billy the Kid was lensed indoors on so-called "green sets," a grave mistake but typical of Metro in the 1940s. Johnny Mack Brown had played the notorious albeit whitewashed outlaw back in 1930 and even he had been considered almost "too pretty." Enter Robert Taylor, Metro's glamour boy number one, who looked even less like a gunman and who in any case was too old for the role. The supporting cast is typically fine, especially Brian Donlevy's Pat Garrett-alike Sheriff Sherwood, but not even the addition of Technicolor can do much against the miscasting of Taylor and a rather lumbering screenplay.