“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
Incredible film. Part contemporary western, part sports redemption film. One where the athlete's eventual success does not lead to accolades or money or even a happy retirement but instead to a continued life of isolation and physical pain. McQueen is brilliant, his famously stoic coolness replaced by stoic suffering.
I find this a bit too mellow for Peckinpah, although I liked the lazy small town feel, it's almost (gasp!) Hawksian at times. But the redemptive ending, or is it a kiss-off, just didn't have enough of a kick for me. One of the few strong, steely, brainy women in the PeckMan's oover (a word that must be mispelled when talking about a Guy Film).
Not much happens. No plot to talk about. It's just McQueen calmly (and sadly - things aren't what they used to be) walking around town talking (very little) to some family members and riding one or too bulls. And it's wonderful.