The Films of Kris Kristofferson

Jesus was a Capricorn, and Kris Kristofferson was a Rhodes Scholar, an army helicopter pilot, a country music star, and, lest we forget, a really fucking great cowboy. He'll always be remembered as the man who wrote "Me and Bobby McGee" and who landed a helicopter on Johnny Cash's lawn to give him a song... but let's not forget his movies!

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)—Ever wonder where "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" came from? This movie! Bob Dylan plays a knife-throwing cowboy named Alias, Kristofferson plays Billy, and there's the always-amazing James Coburn as Pat Garrett. Violent and strange, this movie far exceeds the shittiness of the Young Gun films. Director Sam Peckinpah was famously pissed about the way the studio edited his movie, but it still stands up.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)—Another great Peckinpah film with Kristofferson in a much smaller role. The story is typical Peckinpah—men prove their worth through violence. Here, a wealthy Mexican rancher demands the head of the aforementioned Garcia in exchange for a large sum of money, and what follows, natch, is corpse mutilation and gunfights. Many see this movie as Peckinpah's big "fuck you" to the studio system that chopped up Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Lone Star (1996)—John Sayles wisely uses Kristofferson's laidback, rugged persona for the character of dirty old Sheriff Charlie Wade. Kristofferson's story is told through flashbacks, as Chris Cooper—the current sheriff in a remote area of Texas—tries to figure out the mystery of Wade's death. Taut and suspenseful, the rest of the film's cast isn't too shabby either, with Frances McDormand and Matthew McConaughey—McDormand before she got boring, and McConaughey before he hit his current level of terminal lameness. M. WILLIAM HELFRICH