Saturday, June 20, 2009


Sam Peckipah's "The Wild Bunch" (1969). This is the Western to end all Westerns. Just as grand in scope and violent as any Spaghetti Western, such as Sergio Leone's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", and just as deep, hard-hitting, and beautiful as John Ford's "The Searchers". In my opinion, Peckinpah intended "The Wild Bunch" this way...the last word on the Western. Period. This is a movie of sweeping choreographed violence, beautiful desert landscapes, and a gorgeous leisurely, but not too slow pace, giving you just enough time to soak everything in.

"The Wild Bunch" is a tale of a band of outlaws in the wild west. They are getting along a bit in age and they have a price on their heads wherever they go. There is a bounty hunter and a group of inane thugs hired by a corrupt sheriff to track them down at any cost. With this group of outlaws, however, you don't need to worry about them getting caught. You just need to worry about what they may do next.

"The Wild Bunch" is a classic of the anti-hero Western. This is a group of hardened, horse riding thugs. There is a long and close friendship that binds these criminals together. You really begin to care about these people. They are led by William Holden, playing the tough, aging, embittered, burnt out cowboy to perfection. Another star of this group is Ernest Borgnine, playing a vulgar, sinister, best friend to Holden.

Anyway, our group of anti-heroes wants to do one final job before they retire. They want to steal a train load of guns for the corrupt Mexican miltary in exchange for a large sum of gold. They also want to give a case of guns on the side to the insurgents, whose villages are being taken over by the military. You see, one of the Wild Bunch is a native Mexican, and he doesn't want to see his people suffer. Can they pull this caper off? And what happens if the Mexican military finds out about that missing case of guns? And what about the bounty hunter that is on their trail? All he wants to do is keep his freedom. He is a crimnial too, and he's going back to jail if he can't catch the Wild Bunch...

What follows is a gut-wrenching ultra-violent tale of camaraderie...a blood soaked epic valiantly fought to the finish. Every detail is perfect in this film, and every character is fleshed out perfectly. The images in this film are full of disturbing beauty. The movie opens with a shot of little Mexican children feeding scorpions to fire ants, and you slowly watch the ants eat the scropions alive. This is the felling you get by watching this movie, watching the not so noble characters you have grown to love head to their ruin...

Admittedly, this is a movie that is hard for me to review for some reason. This is the first time I have seen "The Wild Bunch", and it left me speechless. I didn't think there was a film that could ever come close to topping "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and "The Searchers". This film has so many nuances. It makes it such a joy to watch these larger than life characters develop and so saddening to watch their demise. The ending of this film is too powerful. I was speechless once the credits rolled. I really don't know how to bring to you all the details I loved in this movie to type, so I'm going to leave you with a trailer and one request...drop everything and watch "The Wild Bunch" now!

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