Young Guns II turns 20 years old today plus Billy the Kid Week
As you know, we love movie anniversaries here on the Cavalcade. Together, you and I have seen huge franchises reach their 25 and 30 year anniversaries (Back to the Future, The Empire Strikes Back), which, I don’t know about you, makes me feel old as hell. Anyway, today’s movie could still be considered a “young” one (compared to these other franchises, oh, and PUN!). It was released in the first year of a new decade, 1990, but is hands down one of my favorite movies from when I was growing up.
Young Guns II was released on August 1, 1990, 20 years ago today. I was 16 years old when this movie was released.
The original Young Guns was one of my favorite movies of all time. So, needless to say, in 1989, while watching MTV Movie News, when I first saw a report about the filming of Young Guns II: Hell Bent for Leather (original subtitle while it was filming), I nearly lost my damn mind. I had no idea they were going to make a sequel (oh, the days before the internet).
So, I saw this movie the day it came out and I loved it nearly as much as the original. In my mind, it had a few flaws but it was a solid sequel. Both of these movies touched off a love in me for the Old West. I was soon reading everything I could get my hands on about Billy the Kid and other famous gunfighters like
Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Sundance Kid. I even started reading Louie L’Amour novels (which are boring as all hell). It was the Young Guns movies that got me to watch Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns (The Good, Bad and the Ugly) and newer “modern” westerns like The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Unforgiven, The Quick and the Dead and Tombstone. I actually had a picture of Clint dressed as Josey Wales hanging above the bed in my college dorm for 4 years. I still have a love for westerns (as well as Billy the Kid).
So, I watched Young Guns II again for the 20th anniversary yesterday. Does the movie hold up? Do I still like it today? In a word, yes. I love this movie. Emilio takes Billy a few steps further in his portrayal in this movie as we pick up a year or two later and Billy is still on the run from the law. Billy has taken up with Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh and Pat Garrett. Doc
Scurlock and Chavez have gone into hiding trying to escape their past. There is just so much to love about this movie. Action, more snappy dialogue, great characters. Originally, I didn’t like Christian Slater’s Arkansas Dave, as he felt like a cheap imitation of Mulroney’s Dirty Steve from the first movie. I’ve gotten over that prejudice and enjoy him for what he is; an even more narcissistic version of Billy. Originally, I also was not a big fan of William Peterson as Pat Garrett, however I’ve also gotten over this. It works. He’s understated and you feel like his heart really isn’t into hunting down and killing Billy.
Once again, this movie is filled with stars I completely forgot were in it. William Peterson from CSI is Pat Garrett, the one-time friend and eventual killer of Billy. Alan Ruck from Ferris Bueller and Spin City plays Henry French. James Coburn plays John Chisum (Coburn played Pat Garrett in a 1973 Sam Peckinpah movie to be reviewed later this week). Viggo Mortensen plays John Poe and porn star Ginger Lynn Allen plays a whore in one scene. In one or two scenes in the framing story Bradley Whitford plays a lawyer. They really do know how to cast these movies.
So, like I said, this movie is great. About as good as the original movie and lots of fun. Also, I like how they framed this movie’s story with Emilio playing Brushy Bill Roberts who was a real life person back in 1949 that claimed to be the long dead Billy the Kid. He stated that he had escaped death at the hands of Pat Garrett back in 1881. Nothing could be proven before Roberts died in 1950 but extensive analysis of pictures of Roberts as a teen against the famous Billy tintype showed a match was highly likely. Also an analysis of Robert’s personal injury history/scars as they pertain to Billy the Kid also matched up and people known to be friends of The Kid also identified Roberts as Billy. However it seems Roberts claims can never be 100% verified because a separate set of experts and tests showed that no match existed. Anyway, regardless, this movie is great and uses real historical events in the fictional events of this movie in very much the same way the first movie did. Highly recommended.
So now, not only does August contain the 20th birthday of Young Guns II, it also contains the 22nd birthday of the original Young Guns on August 12! So, next week on The Cavalcade will be Billy the Kid Week (starting August 9). I’ll watch a bunch of Billy the Kid movies and give you reviews of them throughout the week, including a review of the original Young Guns movie on it’s 22nd birthday, Thursday, Aug 12.
Hope you are as excited as I am. I look forward to re-visiting some old favorites as well as discovering some new ones.
It was pointed out by Trish that I need to include the Jon Bon Jovi classic “Blaze of Glory” video. And she is correct. It is gloriously over the top, even for Jon Bon Jovi. He’s walking around an abandoned drive-in wearing no shirt and playing acoustic guitar. And check out that ridiculous Indian necklace he’s wearing. WTF?!
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