This is William Bonney, a juvenile “tough” from the back-alleys of New York… a teenager wanted dead or alive throughout the West. This is the screen’s first real story of the strange teen-age desperado known to legend as “Billy the Kid”.
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The play by Gore Vidal (on which the film is based), and deceptively astute direction of Arthur Penn, make film important. Sexual relationships mattered for Vidal in most of his writings and this was no exception. Penn does not show sex on screen, but there is sufficient evidence of the undercurrents. Billy has an affair with his Mexican friend's wife. Yet his friend does not kill him for it after he finds out.