Remembering ‘The Wild Bunch’ Film Director Sam Peckinpah

Director Sam Peckinpah, who revolutionized cinema with an alpha male strut that spilled over to his films and characters and was an A-list influence to scores of directors who followed, passed away 30 years ago today.

Cinema had not seen such a spitfire, gritty kind of man as Sam Peckinpah before his films rapidly exploded on screen or in many ways since. Although he wasn’t the first director to infuse a sense of machismo, and not just on the sleeve, but right in the viewers face, a bloody knuckle sandwich to the senses, he remains one of the more well known rebels of Hollywood in an era when studio systems pretty much ruled and dictated final directions. Peckinpah, a tough, hard edged man by nature, had skirmish after skirmish with studios over his final visions, which almost cost him his career. Somehow, however, he didn’t get totally blackballed by the industry, although his reputation was even then, already encased in cement.

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‘The Wild Bunch’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy’ Turn 45 This Year

Two landmark motion pictures have hit the 45th anniversary milestone this year, and both of them were instrumental in helping usher in the kind of norms, sensibilities, and somewhat radical attitudes that were beginning to burgeon in Tinseltown as the 1960s gave way to the 1970s.

One of them, The Wild Bunch, took screen violence and the western narrative to an entirely different level; the other, Midnight Cowboy, not only became the first X-rated motion picture to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but it also exemplified a kind of realistic film in which the narrative doused its characters in strife, pain, and struggle, and didn’t offer a seamless resolution at its denouement, but rather the contrary. Its kind of downer tale also became a style and staple for many of the films which followed it into the mid 1970s such as Scarecrow, The Last Detail, etc.

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