In 1943, in the Russian front, the decorated leader Rolf Steiner is promoted to Sergeant after another successful mission. Meanwhile the upper-class and arrogant Prussian Captain Hauptmann Stransky is assigned as the new commander of his squad. After a bloody battle of Steiner’s squad against the Russian troops led by the brave Lieutenant Meyer that dies in the combat, the coward Stransky claims that he led his squad against the Russian and requests to be awarded with the Iron of Cross to satisfy his personal ambition together with his aristocratic family. Stransky gives the names of Steiner and of the homosexual Lieutenant Triebig as witnesses of his accomplishment, but Steiner, who has problems with the chain of command in the army and with the arrogance of Stransky, refuses to participate in the fraud. When Colonel Brandt gives the order to leave the position in the front, Stransky does not retransmit the order to Steiner’s squad, and they are left alone surrounded by the enemy and having to fight to survive. —IMDb
“If they move”, hisses stern-eyed William Holden, “kill ’em”. So begins The Wild Bunch (1969), Sam Peckinpah’s bloody, high-body-count eulogy to the mythologized Old West. “Pouring new wine into the bottle of the Western, Peckinpah explodes the bottle”, observed critic Pauline Kael. That exploding bottle also christened the director with the nickname that would forever define his films and reputation: “Bloody Sam”.
David Samuel Peckinpah was born and grew up in Fresno, California, when it was still a sleepy town. Young Sam was a loner. The child’s greatest influence was grandfather Denver Church Peckinpah, a judge, congressman and one of the best shots in the Sierra Nevadas. Sam served in the Marine Corps during World War II but – to his disappointment – did not see combat. He married Marie Selland in Las Vegas in 1947 and enrolled as a theater graduate student at the University of Southern California the next year.
After drifting through several jobs—including a stint… read more
I think, next to The Wild Bunch, this is Peckinpah’s best film. It’s bleak, goddamnit. Really bleak. It’s one of the most nihilistic movies I’ve ever seen. There is no beauty in Peckinpah’s war. Everything… read review