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In the Wild Bunch the movie opens with a group of aging outlaw's final score, a bank robbery. The event concludes with a violent and overtly bloody shootout that would generally mark the finale of a movie. This is correct in that it marks the finale of an era, for the characters and the world they live in. They simply can no longer keep up, the times are changing, technology advancing, and they're style of life is getting left behind in the dust that they spent so long galloping through. They abandon their careers for the simpler life of retirement. They enjoy this time, they live their fantasies. During this time the law is always on their tracks, bounty hunters. The further into their fantasy they get, the closer their demise seems to get. When one of their own is captured they are faced with the choice of escape or what is certainly a suicide mission to attempt and free their fallen behind comrade. For them it is not a choice. They all die in what can only be described as a ... Written by
The shoot itself went off surprisingly well. In all 79 days there were only two small accidents (Ben Johnson broke his finger on the machine gun and William Holden burned his arm with a misfired squib) but the dust and heat were relentless. According to legendary stuntman Joe Canutt, who also worked on Major Dundee (1965), "We were out in an area that was so dry the cactus had dried up and the horned toads carried canteens." Nevertheless, Sam Peckinpah insisted that the movie had to be filmed in Mexico. He had previously worked on the Paramount script for Villa Rides (1968) and had already worked Pancho Villa into the script, indirectly, through the subplot involving the stolen army guns. Some of the locations used were even evident in footage shot decades before during the actual Mexican revolution. See more »
When Pike shoots Buck to put him out of his misery after the opening sequence, Buck is first shown turning to the left as he falls - when we cut back to his fall he is clearly turning to the right See more »
Do not drink wine or strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, least ye shall die. Look not though upon the wine when it is red, and when it bringeth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright at the last, it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder. Now folks, that's from the Good Book, but in this here town it's five cents a glass. Five cents a glass, now does anyone think that that is a price of a drink?
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Critics of Sam Peckinpah generally focus on the gore and violence in his films. "The Wild Bunch" will probably not assuage these critics, but the violence is not gratuitous. In fact, it is almost perfectly meshed in this story of a group of outlaws held together by some frail and some strong bonds who realize that their era - and probably their lives - are almost at an end. The story also deals with a man (Robert Ryan) who was wounded and forced out of the gang, and who must now capture and kill his friend (William Holden), with no option other than to succeed. This film is also about loyalty, choice and honor, and is carried by surprisingly strong acting and writing. Yes the violence is on a large scale (which seems to be commonplace for films portraying the Mexican Revolution), but it is completely in place with these characters and the era in which they live. This is not always a pleasant film to watch, but it is very rewarding, and may be the best film Peckinpah made.
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