The 1972 film Dirty Little Billy tries to be honest about the Old West and about life. Here, Billy the Kid (Michael J. Pollard) is mistreated by certain people, such as his tyrannical stepfather, before he ever becomes a violent ne’er-do-well. Several wastrels, primarily a prostitute (Lee Purcell) and her beau (Richard Evans), accept him, however, and force him to engage in gunfire against scurvy adversaries. No small amount of loss and debacle breaks out for the drifting boy.
The movie was made by two ad men, Stan Dragoti (who directed) and Charles Moss, and although it is plainly a fledgling’s achievement, it can be gripping and even fascinating. The writing is sometimes a letdown, but very little of the drama is predictable: the violent reactions, for example. And there is a nice touch whereby an American flag waving over Billy and the dingy new town he walks through bespeaks something about the country’s future: that many ignorant young ne’er-do-wells will be a fixture in the U.S. population.
(Available on YouTube)
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