1958’s The Left Handed Gun is a Billy the Kid movie—Paul Newman enacts the Kid—directed by Arthur Penn, who holds his own among other Hollywood directors of Westerns. In fact he proves he can be a bit daring.
Billy and his two buddies engage in a lot of mischief while, at the same time, an undercurrent of dire threat exists—as in Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde. Penn said he and writer Leslie Stevens, adapting a television play by Gore Vidal, tried to demonstrate that in the Old West life was cheap (if that is indeed true). . . Gun is a pretty good movie, and Newman’s attention-grabbing talent is evident. The film is superior to every other Arthur Penn work I’ve seen, though I’ve yet to lay eyes on Mickey One, and miles above his rotten Western The Missouri Breaks.