Search - Gunfighters on DVD

Actors: Brian Dennehy, Richard Barela, J. Nathan Simmons
Director: Kevin McCarey
Genres: Documentary
NR     2004     8hr 20min

They were the most feared men of their day - hardened killers whose deadly skill brought notoriety, fortune and fame. Narrated by internationally acclaimed actor Brian Dennehy, Gunfighters of the West chronicles and depict...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Brian Dennehy, Richard Barela, J. Nathan Simmons
Director: Kevin McCarey
Creators: Gretchen Morning, Philip Boag
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: Winstar
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 08/17/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 8hr 20min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A Treasure!
Traci Pigott | worldwide | 12/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I purchased this having a mild interest in the subject matter. I have a huge collection of documentaries, and this is certainly one of the most well done documentaries that I have ever seen. The film is non-biased, and presents the facts in existence about each subject and allows the viewer to draw his/her own conclusions. This film has since spurred a huge interest in the old west for me, and I have ordered many more documentaries along this same line, but none as good as this one so far. I highly recommend this set to anyone; whether or not you are an Old West buff! Great production, very well done, and highly enjoyable!"
Enjoyable learning.
Trueheart | Germany | 04/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My entire family liked these shows. Narrated by Brian Dennehy, these episodes chronical many of the famous gunfighters of the west, as well as a few names that you might not know. The reenactments, though not spectacular, are helpful in making the narration "real" and the information is just top notch. I think anyone, who enjoys peeking into the past of the wild west would enjoy this series."
Entertaining, but I'm not sure about the accuracy
D. Tod Billings | AR USA | 08/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have to admit that when it comes to gunfighters in general, I'm no expert and don't know all the specifics of most of their lives. However, I do know a tremendous amount of information about the Lincoln County War and Billy the Kid specifically. The show about Billy the Kid was little better than "Young Guns" when it came to accuracy. A few examples: It has Billy killing Deputy Bell on an outside staircase (it was inside) and Ollinger from the top of the same outside staircase (he shot him from a window).

It says that on the night of his death Billy knew Garrett and his deputies were in town, and he snuck by the deputies and into Maxwell's room. Even an amateur Billy researcher knows that Billy was obliviously headed to cut a chunk of beef, not heading to Maxwell's room, and that he stumbled upon the deputies in his stocking feet, surprised by their presence and unsure of who they were. The deputies were likewise ignorant of who just stumbled right into their laps, so they didn't try to apprehend him. Only at this point did Billy go into Maxwell's room because it was right there and he wanted to find out who the guys were. He knew Pat was looking for him, and he was immediately suspicious of the men, but he didn't know Garrett and his deputies were in town that very night. However, he certainly didn't "slip" by them into Maxwell's room or even know who they were or that they were there until he was right on top of them.

It claims that when Tunstall was killed Tunstall & his companions (including Billy) were delivering horses as payment on a debt, but the horses were being taken from Tunstall's rance to Lincoln for exactly the opposite reason: because those horses were exempt from the attachment against Tunstall's other livestock; they were the ones he could keep!

It claims Billy was the "head bodyguard," and implies there were only two people (including Billy) accompanying Tunstall with the horses, but there were five men with Tunstall, including Dick Brewer, who was the foreman for Tunstall's hired guns, and certainly his "head bodyguard" if there was such a title. Indeed, while Billy was certainly Tunstall's up and coming wonder boy, at this point he was probably the lowest ranking member of the five men.

The doc claims Tunstall simply "drifted behind his escorts" when he was killed, but no such thing happened. The five escorts saw wild turkeys in the distance and left Tunstall to pursue them for dinner later on. It was when the escorts left Tunstall he was killed, not when he fell behind. The doc shows the four men who confronted Tunstall all firing a hail of bullets, when in actuality only two shots were fired and by only two of the men. Morton shot him in the chest, and Hill dismounted and shot him in the head.

The doc perpetuates the myth that Billy swore vengeance against Tunstall's murderers as Tunstall's body was laid to rest at his funeral, but Billy was in custody during Tunstall's funeral; indeed the sheriff seemingly kept Billy during Tunstall's funeral just so Billy would miss it. It tells us Billy and Tunstall's were friends, but there is no indication Tunstall had any particular feelings for Billy or that they associated outside of business. In fact, Tunstall was gone most of the time and Billy had only worked for him for two months when Tunstall was killed.

It claims Billy was born in New York, but that is only a hypothesis with absolutely zero evidence to support it. It claims Morton & Baker had nine bullet holes a piece in their bodies: one for each Regulator on hand. There were actually 10 bullets in one body and 5 in the other. A guy named McClosky was also shot with Morton & Baker, but he is ignored altogether, as is the shootout at Blazer's Mill.

The doc shows the Regulators assassinating Brady from various & scattered points around town: Billy himself is shown behind a staircase between two buildings. Actually, all the Regulators present fired from the same spot behind a corral gate that was part of the Tunstall store.

It says in regards to the five-day war that Dolan called in the Calvary who laid siege to the McSween house. In point of fact, it was Dolan's hired guns and so-called "lawmen" who did all of the firing: Dudley's troops arrived to simply ensure that it was one-sided in favor of Dolan, and the troops didn't actually attack the house. It claims that at the end of the siege that McSween called out "will you accept our surrender" to which the reply was "yes," and when McSween stepped out, they shot him. In point of fact, McSween and company already knew surrender wasn't a viable option, and when McSween was killed it was in a botched escape attempt: Billy and four others ran first with McSween and those remaining supposed to run out secondly while Billy and others drew enemy fire. McSween hesitated too long before running, and attention had turned away from Billy and the others back again to the house. McSween or a member of his party did call out that they would surrender, but changed their minds and either he or one of his remaining men opened fire again killing a guy named Beckwith; at that point McSween was shot. The doc states that Billy was presumed dead after the siege, but it was known that he got away.

The doc claims Chapman, the lawyer killed by Dolan and Jessie Evans, sided with the Regulators. In fact, Chapman was hired by Mrs. McSween to represent her in bringing charges against Dudley for his role in the murder of her husband (basically allowing it to happen in front of his eyes). Chapman had no interest in the Regulators, and history has never recorded that he sided with, or even liked, them in any way. He certainly wasn't a part of the Tunstall-McSween-Chisum ring.

Billy was actually a relatively minor player in the Lincoln county war, yet no single other regulator is named other than Charlie Bowdre (and they really had to name him considering the context). Furthermore, the documentary says that Billy was Tunstall's head bodyguard, and implies strongly that he led the Regulators. Actually, Dick Brewer, Frank McNabb, and Doc Scurlock, led the Regulators in that order, and Billy never led the Regulators proper, since he wasn't the leader in any remote sense of the word until the last day of the McSween siege that marked the end of the Lincoln County War.

This all wouldn't have bothered me so much was it not for the fact that the doc makers had none other than Frederick Nolan as commentator for the doc. Nolan is the world's biggest authority on Billy the Kid. Nolan would never had allowed these errors to be included had he been properly consulted. So the fact that they had the premiere authority on Billy the Kid and only selectively interviewed him without apparently consulting him in any way as well makes me think these errors are downright inexcusable.

I was very, very disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed the other docs in the collection, but since I don't know the details of the lives of the others showcased, I don't know if they are any more accurate, or if they too are filled with numerous inaccuracies. Based on the slew of inaccuracies in the Billy the Kid segment, I wouldn't bet much on it, however.

So for entertainment value I give the collection five stars. I give it only three stars for accuracy, however, based on the many known inaccuracies in the Billy the Kid segment. So overall, I give it four stars, and recommend it only as a starting point for further research."