Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid -- Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Tuco, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. Tuco

    Tuco Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Pacific NW, USA
    I was listening to Dylan's Knockin' on Heaven's Door this morning. It prompted me to go to Youtube to watch this scene, which I think is one of the great "dying" scenes in cinema. It is one of Pickens's great dramatic scenes, and Katy Jurado is magnificent. As usual, I had tears streaming down my face . . . yeah, I'm a softy.

     
  2. captainsolo

    captainsolo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I've never been able to decide if it is better with or without lyrics in the scene. Peckinpah apparently couldn't either and finally took them out in his assembly cut. They were replaced in the otherwise stupid 2005 cut.
     
  3. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    yea, I agree. I heard about the no lyrics version before I saw it...........thought, 'no way, it can't be any good.' Then I saw it.
    It's almost like a hymn, a funeral chant without lyrics.
     
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  4. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    Peckinpah's rough assembly was to preview for audiences. He was trying out some footage here and some other things there. It was not the final release because Peckinpah had not yet finalized some editorial decisions and had not completed basic technical steps in the filmmaking process. His "assembly cut" was a preview to try out the footage and see how the audience responded pending further refinement.

    The 1973 theatrical version, which Peckinpah edited and supervised, was cut against his wishes by the head of MGM, James Aubrey. The 2005 Special Edition reinstates the cut footage and restores Peckinpah's final editorial decisions. Like it or not, the 2005 version is Peckinpah's film. It's the film he wanted you to see on theatrical screens in 1973. It is the most complete, comprehensive and finely tuned version of the film. The only difference is the ending. Peckinpah wanted Garrett's death at the start to return at the end.

    The preview version is still there for everyone to enjoy. But the restored theatrical version from 2005 is brilliant, and that's the film Peckinpah wanted you to see. It is not stupid. Not by any measure can it be stupid. Peckinpah did not make stupid movies.

    Regarding the use of Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Peckipah always intended for it to be turned up. It was turned up in the preview version. Someone at Turner, when Turner owned the preview version, decided to get creative. They turned the song down and cut Pat Garrett's visit to his wife from the laser disc, vhs and broadcast prints. But Peckinpah intended both things to be in the final film. I agree that the death scene is powerfully sad with or without the song. I just love the song and always want to hear it whenever I get the chance. Just know that Peckinpah intended for the song to be turned up and played loud. He wanted the entire soundtrack played LOUD.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
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  5. doubleaapn

    doubleaapn Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Trophy Club, TX
    I feel that this great scene - with or without the music - echoes the final shot in Peckinpah's earlier "Ride The High Country" (and I won't spoil things any further so as to not dissuade anyone from watching that truly outstanding film). If anything, I consider that earlier scene to be even more poignant and powerful, which is just one of the countless examples of Peckinpah's mastery of the medium.

    Aaron
     
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  6. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    Preach it, doubleapn. Ride the High Country (1962) is unforgettable
     
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  7. Alert

    Alert Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Great River, NY
    Fabulous scene. Dylan's song couldn't be used to better effect cinematically.

    I've shown it to several people -- they're always impressed.
     
  8. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    Though Dylan wandered though the movie with a distracting and nervous performance, he clearly had no direction from Peckinpah. Though Dylan has said they used his music in the wrong places in the film, but other than the incongruous lalala piece during Billy's surrender, his soundtrack works beautifully. The subject of this thread of course, but also under the opening titles, and the closing confrontation.
     
  9. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    I agree that Dylan is distracted and nervous in the film, but that's not Peckinpah's fault. It's Dylan's nature in social situations. Like many people he wasn't ready to be a dramatic actor yet, although Peckinpah worked closely with him and got him to fit in as much as possible. Peckinpah's biographers have documented the situation.
     
  10. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    Didn't Bob say he was 'channeling' so to speak Dustin Hoffman's role in Papillon (particularly in the sequence of reading the cans)?:rolleyes:
     
  11. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    I don't know what Dylan has said, but PAPILLON was filming in Europe while PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID was filmed in Mexico. PAT GARRETT was released 23 May 1973 and PAPILLON was released months later, 16 December 1973 so Dylan could not have been "channeling" Dustin Hoffman.
     
  12. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    I've read that Peckinpah didn't know what to do with him, in fact didn't even know who he was, and had his hands full with all sorts of other problems (some of his own making). Never read anything by Dylan that suggested Sam was a big help. It's not that Bob is distracted, he's distracting, always looking around (for a cue card?). Interestingly, Bob was credited above the title. Apparently someone thought he was a big box office draw.

    I have Paul Seydor's book about the movie (yes, the well intentioned obsessive who sort of screwed up the edit) which I think it probably the most comprehensive delineation of the movie's production (and a lot of history besides). I'll check into that.

    But with respect to this thread, whatever Dylan's thespian failings, he provided music that was beautifully appropriate and evocative. At some level, he was clearly in tune with the story's sentiments.
     
  13. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    Paul did not screw up the edit. He did meticulous research, consulted with the film's original editors who are his friends and colleagues, used their original logs and notes, drew on his discussions with Peckinpah about the film, and conducted the best edit possible under adversarial circumstances imposed by the two head honchos at Warner Home Video. If they had allowed him access to the raw footage and more hands-on, he could have done more with the film.

    Some fans assume he screwed up the edit because they don't understand what's what. Basically, all he did was reinstate Peckinpah's editorial decisions from 1973. So their beef should be with Peckinpah, not with Paul. Since the fans have both versions -- the preview, often mis-identified as a director's cut which it wasn't, and the 2005 version, they have nothing to complain about. It's all there.

    However, if fans want to complain about the quality of the transfer, they have every reason to. It's a couple of clicks too bright, and there is a sepia layer imposed over the ebullient color which flattens the color pallet. There are several instances of out of sync audio. But again, that's the fault of Warner Home Video, not Paul Seydor and the commentators.
     
  14. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 Forum Resident

    I remember reading a Rolling Stone article about what a wild time the actors had in Mexico. And Sam, of course.
     
  15. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    IDK if all your contentions are accurate. In Seydors book, he seems very defensive about some of the editorial decisions that he seemed to make predicated on his own understanding, or his own preference. Not Peckinpah's. Note the rearranged opening. I am left with a very complicated and unresolved attitude toward him. On one hand he obviously deeply admires Peckinpah, but also has a clear-eyed views of his foibles. On the other, he blithely made editorial decisions, such as cutting out lines, implying they were just 'minor' but cumulatively changed the film's tone. Then he sort of justifies it by suggesting that its just editing protocol and that editors have wide latitude in how they shape a film. That may be true in terms of presenting a cut to a living director still involved with the film. Not the case here.

    Lots of good insights here, including Seydor himself weighing in: 30. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

    In any event, it's such a powerful film that it even transcends its own troubled production and post production. For the record, I far prefer Slim Pickens' poignant death scene with Dylan singing.
     
  16. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    Philborder, have you seen the 1973 theatrical release?
     
  17. jojopuppyfish

    jojopuppyfish Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    I like Peckinpah but I did not like this filme. And I agree that while this is a great song, it really doesn't belong in the movie.
     
  18. jojopuppyfish

    jojopuppyfish Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
  19. jwoverho

    jwoverho Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mobile, AL USA
    I don't think Sam ever made a truly bad film. Every one has something to redeem it, although most require no redemption at all.
    His demons were part of who he was but it's a shame he wasn't around longer to create.
    GARCIA was the film that came closest to Sam's intent, IIRC.
     
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  20. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    Yeah, in '73. What I remember is being impressed by certain sequences, like the opening, Billy's escape from jail, the ending. It struck me as being a meditative almost lyrical film in some ways.
     
  21. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    I watched Convoy the other night. Hard to believe it was the same director.
     
  22. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    Well, try to watch it again. The VHS of the 1973 theatrical release isn't hard to find. Aside from the huge chop-outs and little digs James Aubry imposed, it's Peckinpah's edit, and a very tight one. You may appreciate what Paul Seydor did for the film after studying that.

    Since the TCM print is on disc 2 the same way it was shown on the Z channel and on laser-disc I don't see how anyone can complain. People who prefer that version have got it. Just realize it's a workprint-in-progress for trying out on audiences and not a director's final cut.

    Personally I love both versions, but I have come to appreciate Paul Seydor's recovery of Peckinpah's intentions and those of the crewpeople who served him. I agree that its a meditative almost lyrical film in some ways although it has more in common with Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia than with, say, Ride the High Country or The Wild Bunch.
     
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  23. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    Nicely said, jwoverho. I couldn't agree more.

    Cinema has never been the same since Peckinpah left us.
     
  24. I wish there was a cut with all traces of Bob Dylan removed, it would be a far better film without him. Other than singing "Heaven's Door" on the soundtrack,
    nothing he does adds anything of value.
     
  25. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    I used to think the same thing, and I'm a dedicated Dylan fan. His character wasn't in the script when they started shooting, so he didn't really know what to do. Peckinpah created a character for him as they shot it. I think Dylan could have done better if circumstances had been different. Watching the 2005 Special Edition, he's not that bad, really. His character actually has more to do than the Kid's other cronies in the film.
     

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