10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Dirty Little Billy 
Written by: on October 8th, 2011

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1972
Director: Stan Dragoti
Writers: Stan Dragoti, Charles Moss
Cast: Michael J. Pollard, Richard Evans, Lee Purcell, Charles Aidman, Dran Hamilton, Willard Sage, Gary Busey, Dick Van Patten

DVD released: April 27th, 2011
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Sony Pictures
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Synopsis: Street punk William McCarty is relocated from NYC to a farm outside Coffeyville, Kansas. After the farming life proves to be too much work he flees to the tiny town and takes up residence in the local saloon. Gradually we witness his metamorphosis from a boy into ‘Billy The Kid’.

Little Billy isn’t the only thing dirty here. Everyone is caked in dust, grime, and/or mud in practically every scene. The ambience is very much Django meets McCabe And Mrs. Miller. The bulk of the film occurs in the dingy little saloon, where outlaw Goldie pimps out his girlfriend Berle while the bartender hides behind the bar more often than not.

This epic tale of the old west is rated ‘R’ despite zero nudity and only a smidgen of profanity. But there is an obsession with sex, and the violence so casual and promiscuous that it becomes truly obscene. No one in the saloon has any direction or purpose in life except hedonism. At least they reject greed as their primary motivation, manifested by the rival faction across the street (or long swath of mud, if you will).

There’s not much of an actual story to tell, it’s more of a road trip that mostly happens inside the saloon. Michael Pollard (Bonnie and Clyde) gets the starring (title) role, and it’s most certainly his best showcase. Richard Evans and Lee Purcell are good as the co-leads, and Charles Aidman is suitably smarmy as the duplicitous community leader.  Even more satisfying are the brief but show stopping cameos from top character actors of the period: Gary Busey, Mills Watson, Len Lesser, Ed Lauter, and Dick Van Patten going down on Berle (!).

The DVD:

This Columbia MOD disc looks very nice and clear, and appears to be newly remastered, though there is lots of dirt (just kidding!). Colors aren’t particularly bright, but they weren’t meant to be. Sound is good, but why can’t they furnish subtitles? The extra is the theatrical trailer which is somewhat softer than the feature. No chapter selection menu, but there are 11 stops. 

The end product is a meandering, claustrophobic, and bleak revisionist western as seen through bloodshot eyes. It seems slower than it actually is due to lack of a distinct story arc, but be assured that sleaze and violence and black humor are here in [the ace of] spades.
Note: had a problem with the screen caps on this DVD-R disc, so these shots are sourced from http://mykindofstory.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/dirty-little-billy-and-sonys-dvd/. Lots more pics and and an in-depth review there, as well.

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