The tall and virile Johnny Mack Brown portrays the short and dyspeptic outlaw William Bonney, a.k.a. Billy the Kid. Wallace Beery is more effectively cast as Pat Garrett, the sheriff who's sworn to bring in Billy dead or alive despite his grudging friendship for the young killer. Hardly the "homicidal moron" described by western historians, the movie's Billy has a certain amount of charm, though he's shown to be a cold-blooded killer when the opportunity arises. The film's ending was shot twice: One ending retained fidelity to the facts by having Garrett kill Billy, while the other denouement allowed Billy to ride into the sunset, as Garrett beatifically looked on. Over the protests of western purists, the second ending was used in the American release version, though the more tragic climax was seen by European audiences. Billy the Kid was originally released in a 70mm widescreen process called Realife; to avoid confusion with MGM's 1941 Billy the Kid, the earlier film has been retitled The Highwayman Rides for television.