The Authentic Death and Contentious Afterlife of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Cloth Text – $89.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3089-0

E-book – $29.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-6820-6

Trade Paper – $29.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3056-2
Publication Date
February 2015
Page Count
408 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Authentic Death and Contentious Afterlife of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

The Untold Story of Peckinpah's Last Western Film
Paul Seydor

Long before Sam Peckinpah finished shooting his 1973 Western, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, there was open warfare between him and the studio. In this scrupulously researched new book Paul Seydor reconstructs the riveting history of a brilliant director fighting to preserve an artistic vision while wrestling with his own self‑destructive demons. Meticulously comparing the film five extant versions, Seydor documents why none is definitive, including the 2005 Special Edition, for which he served as consultant. Viewing Peckinpah’s last Western from a variety of fresh perspectives, Seydor establishes a nearly direct line from the book Garrett wrote after he killed Billy the Kid to Peckinpah’s film ninety-one years later and shows how, even with directors as singular as this one, filmmaking is a collaborative medium. Art, business, history, genius, and ego all collide in this story of a great director navigating the treacherous waters of collaboration, compromise, and commerce to create a flawed but enduringly powerful masterpiece.
About the Author

Paul Seydor is an Oscar-nominated film editor and a professor in the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University in California. He is the author of Peckinpah: The Western Films—A Reconsideration (1997).

“A superlative achievement. This exceptional and engrossing book explores the genesis of a particular film while describing the turmoil in film production that we like to call “collaboration.” I cannot call to mind another book that is so illuminating on the great variety of pressures on a film idea that begins in the writing and the shooting, but may climax in the internecine warfare that carries the footage to the screen. In addition, we get a rich portrait--as good as has been achieved--of Peckinpah, the unruly genius who made many enemies but reserved first place on that team for himself.” David Thomson

 “Sam Peckinpah was a brilliant and self-destructive cinematic poet, and no one has studied his work more thoroughly than Paul Seydor. This book is an intimate and haunting portrait of the artist and his last Western, and it is a must-read for those who care about Peckinpah and the genre.”—Glenn Frankel, author of The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend

"Do we need another book on Sam Peckinpah and, in this case, a whole book devoted to one film? An unqualified yes if it is written by Paul Seydor and as original and provocative as this one. Considered a leading scholar of Peckinpah, Seydor has written extensively, persuasively, and passionately about Peckinpah’s Westerns, but none of his previous books has focused exclusively or so intensely on one film... This book has cast a stunning light on the making of the film and carved a coherent path through the jungle of controversy. It has helped us see and understand how Peckinpah, in this last of his Westerns, has left an indelible mark on the genre. In essence, this study as accomplished what the best film criticism always aspires to: producing fresh eyes and awakened senses in viewers, preparing us for a profoundly visceral experience. Seydor comments on one of Peckinpah's frequent sayings: ' 'feeling it' is what his films are all about' (243). Seydor's book helps us to feel it, powerfully and unforgettably in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid." —Western American Literature 

“In Paul Seydor’s fascinating book on Peckinpah’s classic, we discover how a fastidious novelist, a maverick screenwriter, and a genius filmmaker all drew from and reshaped the Kid’s legend, the end result being the best Billy the Kid movie ever made.”  —Mark Lee Gardner, author of To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West

"Seydor—an academic who abandoned academia for a more hand-son role as a film editor—is ideally placed to write about such matters…[he] has done Charles Neider justice at last; Peckinpah too." —The Times Literary Supplement