A recently-released ex-con and his loyal wife go on the run after a heist goes awry.A recently-released ex-con and his loyal wife go on the run after a heist goes awry.A recently-released ex-con and his loyal wife go on the run after a heist goes awry.
An entertaining and exciting ride if you haven't read Jim Thompson's original hard boiled classic.
'The Getaway' is Sam Peckinpah in gun for hire mode making a commercial heist-gone-wrong/lovers-on-the-run movie. He tried to do something similar later in the Seventies with 'Convoy', but that one strayed too far into studio compromise and was nowhere near as successful on an artistic level. Even though one gets the feeling that the movie's star Steve McQueen was calling the shots, Peckinpah still manages to add some of his trademark flamboyant violence and moral ambiguity to what is, let's face it, essentially an action movie. And I must say it is a very good action movie at that, and one many directors today working in this often tired and lazy genre could learn a thing or two from concerning suspense, drama and genuine excitement. The less you know about Jim Thompson's original novel the more you will enjoy this movie. Walter Hill (future director of 'The Warriors' and 'Southern Comfort') takes most of the basic plot, but leaves out the brilliant final chapter set in the hellish criminal haven El Ray. Apparently this was at the insistence of Steve McQueen who thought it too depressing. I also would guess that McQueen influenced Hill to alter the character of Doc McCoy from the book's charming sociopath to a more traditional tough-but-still-fairly decent career criminal. Maybe McQueen felt more comfortable pulling that style off, which is odd because he showed a lot more depth in Peckinpah's low key 'Junior Bonner'. In this one respect 'The Getaway's inferior 1990s remake was closer to Thompson's original spirit by casting Alec Baldwin in the same role. Anyway, if you forget about the book, and accept this movie for what it is, and not what it might have been it is a taut and impressive thriller. McQueen and the beautiful Ali McGraw (then husband and wife) show some real chemistry and are consistently watchable. Peckinpah uses many of his regular dependable character actors (Bo Hopkins, Dub Taylor) to support them, including a first rate Ben Johnson ('The Wild Bunch') in an uncharacteristically nasty role. Al Letteri ('The Godfather') also impresses as McQueen's conniving colleague, Slim Pickens ('Dr Strangelove') as a helpful old geezer, Sally Struthers ('All In The Family') as a blonde bimbo, and the underrated Richard Bright ('Vigilante', 'Crimewave', 'The Godfather') has a scene stealing bit as a con-man who bites off more than he can chew. 'The Getaway' is by no means Peckinpah's most interesting or impressive movie but it is solid entertainment that is hard to beat, and should be watched by any self-respecting Seventies movie fan.
- Dec 29, 2002
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