Monday, July 14, 2014

At the Movies Double: 'Young Guns I & II'

Lincoln County, 1878, Englishman John Tunstall picks up William Bonny off the streets and pulls him out of trouble just in time from being hung, taking him to his place where he's rescued four other young men to work on his farm.  All of them are from different backgrounds and have their own stories; but William Bonny is different, well-educated but very much a young man with very few boundaries.
Tunstall - however - is very much a thorn in the side of the Murphies, who own a majority of the land, stores and areas surrounding Lincoln.  They don't like the way John Tunstall pulls in these young men and how he puts them to work on his farm without question, as he's also a competitor in selling cattle.
One day after the town celebrates New Years Eve, Tunstall is shot by Murphy's men, along with his horse, and all of Tunstall's boys are out to even the score.  However, nobody will go up against Murphy's men as even the judge works for Murphy.  So, John's boys are deputised to serve warrants for Murphy's men and arrest them... however, William and the others have other things in mind and they shoot them instead; becoming outlaws themselves.
Very soon, all five of them become famous with William scoring the name 'Billie the Kid' - as he was under the age of 21 at the time of his fame - and they run riot around the county seeking revenge on the Murphy's for what they did to the man who helped them stay off the streets and out of jail.  They're chased by everyone of authority; and yet hailed heroes by the people of Lincoln and New Mexico.  

In the second film of 'Young Guns II' most the boys have gone their own ways.  Doc Hollywood took off to New York and became a school teacher with his wife (a young Chinese girl he stole from a Murphy man who was in the first film and had used her as payment for a ruined shirt).  Billie 'The Kid' had been living off the land with the rest of the gang killing and stealing for the next year and becoming a right criminal... however the law was catching up with him - and his boys.
Chavez and Doc were picked up quickly by the police and dragged back to Lincoln, and the law there prepared a gallows to hang them. Billie's been on the run for a long time, and has made a few friends, one of them was Pat Garrett - a man who had become a close friend and Billie's conscience - and another was Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh (who keeps on saying that the gang is his when Billie is clearly the leader of it).  When the gang settles in New Mexico for a spell, Pat turns around to Billie and lets him know that he's retiring from being a thief telling him that he's bought the saloon they're resting up in.  He wants to have a decent life with a wife and settle down - Billie hates him for it, but lets him go.  The lawmakers of the land hear of Pat's plans and employ him as the Sheriff of the area, paying him $1,000 to track down Billie the Kid and his gang saying they'd 'pay a thief to track a thief' and it'd be easy.  But is it really?

I found the second film a lot more memorable than the first... but Christian Slater's character was a moron.  It's a little wonder Billie the Kid didn't do away with him in the beginning because of his smart mouth and how it got them into more trouble than they were already in.
But the way it was filmed was great.  In the beginning of the second film, it shows a very old man walking through the desert with a horse, meeting a lawyer on the side of a deserted highway, sitting down and telling him his story of who he was.... it's well done and said to be true.  However, who's to know if it is, seeing in the end credits, it says the man who said he was actually Billie 'the Kid' went before the courts to be pardoned, however he never could be because they didn't believe him, saying that William Bonny was legally dead and they couldn't prove it was really him... that was in the 1960's.  So who was to know if this was true or not.  I'll let you guys make up your own minds.  

A bit of movie trivia:  Jon Bon Jovi was in 'Young Guns II'... as one of the prison inmates.  He was in the back of the group of them in the pit!   

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