CIP School in the Phils.

Young Guns OF Texas IN ENGLISH!!!

on August 30, 2012


Billy the Kid (1860 – 1881). Image mirro...

Billy the Kid (1860 – 1881). Image mirrored on vertical axis to correct widely-seen flopped tintype. Cartridge loading gate on Winchester Model 1873 lever action rifle is on the right side of the receiver. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Young Guns II is a 1990 western film, and the sequel to Young Guns (1988). It stars Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christian Slater, and features William Petersen as Pat Garrett. It was written and produced by John Fusco and directed by Geoff Murphy.

It follows the life of William H. Bonney aka Billy the Kid (played by Emilio Estevez), in the years following the Lincoln County War in which Billy was part of “The Regulators” – a group of around 6 highly skilled gunmen avenging the death of John Tunstall – and the years before Billy’s documented death. The film, however, is told by Brushy Bill Roberts, a man who in the 1940s appeared claiming to be the real Billy the Kid.

While the film takes some creative license, it does show some of the key events leading up to Billy’s documented death, including his talks with Governor Lew Wallace, his capture by friend-turned-foe Pat Garrett, his trial and his subsequent escape in which he killed two deputies.


The film opens in 1950 with a young attorney talking to an elderly man named Brushy Bill Roberts, who claims that he is William H. Bonney (aka Billy The Kid), whom “everyone” knows to have been shot and killed by Pat Garrett in 1881. The majority of the film takes place in flashbacks as the old man recalls his story for the lawyer, who asks if the man has any proof that he is the famous outlaw.

Brushy Bill’s story begins with the remaining Regulators having gone their separate ways. Billy has become part of a new gang with “Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh (Slater) and Pat Garrett (Petersen). The New Mexico governor has issued warrants for the arrests of those involved in the Lincoln County wars, including Billy, Doc Scurlock (Sutherland), and Jose Chavez y Chavez (Phillips), who are dragged into town and imprisoned to await hanging.

Meanwhile, Billy meets with the new governor Lew Wallace who agrees to pardon Billy if he testifies against the Dolan-Murphy faction. Billy soon finds out that he was tricked into being arrested with no chance of testifying against his old enemies. After escaping, Billy along with the help of Rudabaugh and Garrett, pose as a lynch mob to spring his old comrades from a hanging. When the gang successfully escape Lincoln, Billy mentions the Mexican Blackbird (a broken trail only he and few others know that leads down to Mexico). Garrett decides not to go with the gang and, instead, open a boarding house. As they make a run for the border along with farmer Hendry William French (Alan Ruck) and 14 year old Tom O’Folliard (Balthazar Getty), cattle baron John Simpson Chisum and Governor Wallace approach Garrett to offer him the job as Lincoln County Sheriff and $1000 to use whatever resources he needs to hunt Bonney down and kill him. Garrett agrees and, forming a posse, begins his pursuit of the gang.

Billy and the gang soon come to the town of White Oaks where they meet up with former companion, Jane Greathouse (Jenny Wright) who runs a local bordello. Later that night, the town lynch mob comes for the gang and are intent on a hanging. Deputy Carlisle tries to negotiate a deal, “the Indian” (Chavez) for a safe rideout. Billy refuses the offer and pushes the Deputy out the door, who is then accidentally killed by the lynch mob. Garrett soon tracks Billy to the bordello, but is too late. Billy and his gang are continuously tracked by the posse, narrowly evading capture, but Tom (being mistaken for Billy) is soon shot dead by Garrett. As they hideout, Billy reveals that the Mexican Blackbird doesn’t exist; it was just a pawn to get the gang back together and to keep riding. Doc is angered and tries to leave for home, but he is shot by one of Garrett’s men and sacrifices himself to enable his friends to escape.

Billy the Kid is soon brought back into Lincoln by Garrett and is sentenced to death by hanging. He is visited by Jane Greathouse, who arranges to meet him during his daily outhouse visit, where she gives him a pistol. Billy uses the pistol to kill two guards and escapes to Old Fort Sumner. By the time he arrives, Dave has abandoned the group to make his way to Mexico, and Chavez is dying from a bullet wound. During the night Garrett finds Billy as he is unarmed. Billy asks Garrett to let him hide in Mexico and tell the authorities that he killed him. Garrett declines because he believes Billy would not be able to resist coming back to the United States (which would lead to Garrett’s death for lying). Billy turns around, forcing Garrett to have to shoot him in the back, which he does not. In the morning, a fake burial is staged for Billy and Garrett’s horse is seen being taken by Billy.

The film ends with the lawyer being convinced that Brushy Bill is Billy the Kid. The epilogue reveals that Dave was beheaded once he reached Mexico to discourage more outlaws from crossing the border, Garrett’s book detailing his pursuit of Billy is a dismal failure and he is eventually shot and killed, and despite corroboration from several surviving friends of the outlaw, Brushy Bill Roberts was never credited as being Billy the Kid and he died shortly after. The film ends saying that whether or not Brushy Bill was Billy the Kid remains a mystery.

The real Brushy Bill Roberts did in fact go before New Mexico Gov. Thomas Mabry in 1950, but was discredited at a hearing that has been repeatedly criticized for its circus atmosphere. In the years since, historical and forensic evidence of varying degrees of credibility has emerged on both sides of the debate over the true identity of Brushy Bill Roberts. Could he possibly in fact have been Billy the Kid? The issue has never been conclusively decided, although the majority of academic historians now tend to discount Robert’s claims. However, the debate will probably continue for a long time to come, as no irrefutable evidence that Roberts was not the Kid has emerged, and without that some will always be willing to believe that it is at least a possibility. The Brushy Bill story is another fascinating mystery of the Old West era.


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