|The Ballad of
Bloody Sam: The Films of Sam Peckinpah
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Director Sam Peckinpah (1925 1984) is one of the
true legends of 20th century Hollywood, a prodigious, no-nonsense filmmaker who
honed his chops on television. Peckinpah got his break in feature films directing THE
DEADLY COMPANIONS starring Maureen OHara and Brian Keith (TVs "The
Westerner"). His next film, RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, was regarded as a
masterpiece and served as a fitting swansong for its stars Western cinema icons
Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. Sadly, the follow-up MAJOR DUNDEE emerged as a troubled
production. The studio removed segments detailing much of Dundees disillusion and
emotional rejuvenation in Mexico. To his lasting credit, DUNDEE star Charlton Heston
offered to waive his considerable salary if Columbia Pictures would refrain from firing
Peckinpah during production. This set a pattern of studio interference that would dog
Peckinpah through the rest of his boisterous career, but he managed to maintain much of
his vision with ensuing films. Prime evidence came in 1969 with Peckinpahs epic THE
WILD BUNCH, a brutally revisionist western that held audiences in a vise-like grip for
144 grueling, intoxicating minutes, and is often credited (rightly or wrongly) with
pioneering a new era of graphic on-screen violence. More masterworks followed, including
the savage STRAW DOGS, wistful and bawdy BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE,
heartbreakingly lyrical PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID and macabre tall-tale BRING
ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA. Peckinpah also made such exciting, action-packed paeans
to rugged individualism as JUNIOR BONNER and THE GETAWAY and such trenchant
examinations of institutionalized treachery as CROSS OF IRON and THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND.
Sometimes hard-to-get-along-with, sometimes pigheaded and ornery-as-hell, Peckinpah still
remains one of the most beloved and influential directors of the last fifty years,
engendering affection and loyalty from virtually all who worked with him throughout his
Thursday, September 7 - 7:30 PM
BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO
GARCIA, 1974, MGM Repertory, 112 min. Director Sam Peckinpahs
macabre shaggy dog story rises to the status of existential masterpiece before the last
frame unspools. A ruthless land baron (Emilio Fernandez) offers a huge bounty to
find Alfredo Garcia, the father of his daughters unborn child. Piano-playing,
expatriate loser Bennie (Warren Oates in one of his finest roles) shambles through
the hellish backwater villages of rural Mexico on the hunt for "easy" money, a
deadly pilgrimage that could jeopardize Bennies one real chance at happiness
the love of his loyal, prostitute girlfriend Elita (Isela Vega). Look for the
incomparable Robert Webber and Gig Young as the pokerfaced killers tailing
RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY,
1962, Warner Bros., 94 min. Peckinpahs first uncontested masterwork is this
elegiac portrait of the end of the Wild West, embodied in the form of two aging friends
(unforgettably played by Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea) with very different
agendas, who are hired to guard a shipment of gold. Lucien Ballards cinematography
was never better, capturing the untainted splendor of the high mountains and the
bone-weary sadness of two men nearing the end of their lives trails. With Mariette
Hartley. Discussion between films with Peckinpah
biographer, David Weddle, actress Mariette Hartley, Gordon Dawson and moderator Nick
Friday, September 8 - 7:30 PM
Steve McQueen Double Feature:
THE GETAWAY, 1972, Warner Bros., 122 min.
Director Sam Peckinpah adapts writer Jim Thompsons savage pulp classic with
tightly wound Steve McQueen as escaped bank robber Doc McCoy. To spring him from
the joint, devoted wife Ali McGraw enlists the help of corrupt fat-cat Ben
Johnson, who wants McCoy to execute a seemingly impossible robbery. Al Lettieri
is the memorably sleazy killer who dogs the couples trail after thieves fall out.
With Sally Struthers.
JUNIOR BONNER, 1972, Disney, 100
min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. Steve McQueen is Junior Bonner, a restless rodeo
star trying to deal with drifter/con man dad Robert Preston and outspoken,
responsible mom Ida Lupino, as well as girlfriend Barbara Leigh while
hes not getting his head busted on bucking broncs. A sometimes funny, sometimes
melancholic meditation on Americans whove forsaken the 9-to-5 strait-jacket to
thrive in a much more rugged lifestyle. With Ben Johnson and Joe Don Baker. Discussion between films with Peckinpah assistant, Katy Haber and
author, Garner Simmons (Peckinpah - Portrait in Montage).
Saturday, September 9 - 7:30 PM
Brand New Print! PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID, 1973, Warner Bros., 122 min.
Director Sam Peckinpahs take on the famous outlaws rise and fall is
nothing less than magnifcent a sprawling, plaintive, exquisite reflection on loss
of all kinds. Billy (Kris Kristofferson) and his loose-knit gang (amongst them Bob
Dylan, who also supplied the beautiful score) butt heads with cattle industry
interests devouring the countryside, something that steers them on a collision course with
old comrade and new sheriff, Pat Garrett (James Coburn). Watch for the
"Knockin On Heavens Door" sequence with Sheriff Baker (Slim
Pickens) and his wife (Katy Jurado), one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful
in the history of western cinema. With Harry Dean Stanton, R.G. Armstrong, Donnie
Fritts, L.Q. Jones.
Brand New Print!
THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE, 1970, Warner Bros.,
121 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. This whimsical, sweetly melancholy, ultimately
uplifting fable stars Jason Robards as Cable, a prospector left in the desert to
die by partners L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin. But in a classic
turning-lemons-into-lemonade twist, Cable discovers a freshwater spring and establishes a
stagecoach rest stop on the spot, the perfect occupation for a cantankerous loner. Things
couldnt be going better with prostitute love-of-his-life Hildy (Stella Stevens)
moving in with him. But then a newfangled invention rears its ugly head the
automobile. David Warner is excellent as Cables con man preacher pal, Joshua.
Discussion between films with Peckinpah assistant, Katy Haber
and author, Paul Seydor (Peckinpah - The Western Films - A Reconsideration).
Sunday, September 10 - 6:30 PM
THE WILD BUNCH, 1969, Warner Bros., 145
min. Saddle up for a screening of director Sam Peckinpahs magnificent,
ultra-violent western, starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates and
Jaime Sanchez as a band of doomed outlaws trying to outrun history. Exceedingly
controversial upon its initial release, THE WILD BUNCH forever changed the way violence
was depicted and perceived in the movies. Co-starring Robert Ryan, Edmond OBrien,
L.Q. Jones, Bo Hopkins and Strother Martin.
THE KILLER ELITE, 1975, MGM
Repertory, 122 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. Independent covert operative Locken (James
Caan) is betrayed and seriously wounded by best friend Hansen (Robert Duvall),
who has decided to flip allegiances when the other side offers more money. Initially,
Locken refuses to return to the freelance spy game, but cynical former bosses Gig Young
and Arthur Hill lure him back with a promise of going up against his former
comrade. With Bo Hopkins, Burt Young, Mako. Discussion
between films with actor, Bo Hopkins and author, Garner Simmons.
Wednesday, September 13 - 7:30 PM
STRAW DOGS, 1971, Disney, 118 min. Dir.
Sam Peckinpah. Extremely controversial upon its initial release, this tale of an
intellectual pacifist (Dustin Hoffman), pushed to the limit by a sadistic,
hard-drinking family of hooligans, was cut by several minutes in the U.S., including
graphic footage of spouse Susan George's rape and the bone-jarring, blood-drenched
climax, which softened the ferocious impact of Peckinpahs allegory of
supposedly-civilized humans reverting to their most primitive state. This is the uncut
version. Discussion following with authors, Paul Seydor and