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Wherefore Art Thou, Bloody Sam?
Welcome to The High Hat’s Sam Peckinpah feature. For those of you not in the know, Peckinpah was an American icon: the hard-drinking, punch-throwing, philandering salty old prick with desert-trash poetry in his soul and the eye of a scrub-brush Michelangelo. He made brilliant films that turned a cold eye on humanity and showed us in our violent, kind, cruel, chaotic, naturalistic, honorable, heroic, dumb, bitter, tired, poetic, ever-loving glory.
When we first conceived doing this, we thought that we’d try to have an essay on each of Peck’s movies, as well as an essay on his style. As it turns out, though, not a one of us wanted to make a run at The Wild Bunch alone. So, we’ve decided that we’ll all have a conversation about TWB instead, and now it’s the subject of this month’s Algonquin Kids’ Table discussion.
A few of Peck’s minor movies, The Deadly Companions, Noon Wine and Cross of Iron, went unclaimed by our writers. Then a few writers decided that they just didn’t have enough to say about their subjects. Bye bye, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, The Getaway and The Killer Elite.
Which leaves us with the following:
- Gary Mairs on Peck’s use of point of view
- Phil Nugent on Peck’s stable of actors
- Tom Block on Ride The High Country (1962)
- Yours truly on Major Dundee (1965)
- Lots of smart folks on The Wild Bunch (1969)
- Dana Knowles on Straw Dogs (1971)
- Me (again) on Junior Bonner (1972)
- Tom Block on Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid (1973)
- Phil Nugent on Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
- Scott Von Doviak on Convoy (1978)
- Leonard Pierce on The Osterman Weekend (1983)
Peckinpah was a challenging director at his best (and possibly more challenging in his decline, as Von Doviak’s and Pierce’s articles show). We hope you enjoy reading us wrestling with his movies.
One last note: it is a crime that Ride the High Country, Major Dundee, the director’s cut of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia have not been released on DVD. Criterion, we’re looking right at you.
Look for Brett Grenadier Richards' article on Cross of Iron here!