“You were a bum in New York, and you’re a bum here! You’re useless — understand? Useless!”
After moving out west from New York, teenage slacker Billy Bonney (Michael J. Pollard) — soon to be known as Billy the Kid — befriends an outlaw (Richard Evan) and his prostitute-girlfriend, Berle (Lee Purcell).
Dirty Little Billy recounts a hypothetical version of what the infamous gunman Billy the Kid might have been like before he turned to a life of crime, positing him as a snivelly, slow-witted, slacker teen. I’m not sure I buy this concept, nor does there seem to be much historical evidence to back it up, but it is — at the very least — an interesting approach for a biopic, and Pollard’s performance is appropriately annoying. Director Stan Dragoti (Mr. Mom) is ultimately most effective at showing the Old West as dirty, violent, and uncompromising; the film will appeal most to those who enjoy their westerns unpolished and raw. But don’t expect to learn much of factual importance about Billy.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- An authentically gritty depiction of the American West
- Lee Purcell as Berle
No, but it’s recommended for those interested in “realistic” westerns.