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Truly American Favorites - THE WILD BUNCH

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David Roth Weiss
Truly American Favorites - THE WILD BUNCH
on Apr 18, 2009 at 7:22:01 pm

There are movies made in America, and then there are truly "American movies," which are those that tell a story steeped in deeply American values or perhaps American mythology. One truly American film that always comes to my mind is Sam Peckinpaw's epic western, THE WILD BUNCH.

It's the story of a motley gang of time-toughened American desperadoes, led by William Holden and his trusted sidekick Ernest Borgnine, who land in Mexico after the U.S government turns up the heat on lawlessness in the settled frontier of the modern West.

The gang is over the hill, clearly having outlived their heyday in the old west, and they're shot-up beat to Hell. But, south of the border, they somehow beat the odds, use their wits to outmaneuver their adversaries, and they make the big score they've been striving for all their lives. Now, they've got the money in their pockets they need to quit the outlaw life for good.

However, after a big celebration, with all the booze and all the beautiful native women they could ever want, after just one night secure in the knowledge they could actually live out their lives as they've always dreamed, there isn't one among them who's content to take the easy way out. They've witnessed the brutality unleashed on the local peasant population by cruel warlord General Mapache and his well-equipped army of thugs; and so, despite being heavily outnumbered and outgunned, to a man, THE WILD BUNCH knows that it's up to them to right injustice, though each of them knows they'll all die trying.

And so, with nothing more than a nod between them, the gang grab their weapons, and they set off, side by side, to settle things once and for all, and to meet their fate, because that's the way we Americans do things.

It's classic American mythology that's been woven into our movies and into our culture over time. Every American, even the thieves and outlaws among us, have an unspoken code, which compels us to defend the righteous in the face evil, no matter what the cost.

Okay, here's the scene I've described above, unfortunately along with the entire finale of the movie... So, if you haven't ever seen the movie, stop it if you can after the first shot is fired. BTW, be sure to pay particular attention to the timing of the mournful Mariachi music -- Peckinpaw starts it at a moment that is lovingly and exactingly selected, and about as perfect as it gets in any movie ever made.



Okay, so who's got another example?




David Roth Weiss
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Chris Poisson
Re: Truly American Favorites - THE WILD BUNCH
on Apr 18, 2009 at 8:11:03 pm

Truly, classic American film, I am putting this on the list of rentals I need to re-visit, thanks!

Have a wonderful day.


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Ramona Howard
Re: Truly American Favorites - THE WILD BUNCH
on Apr 18, 2009 at 8:15:14 pm

Love that movie.

Ramona

Play hard today, it may be raining tomorrow!


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Bob Cole
Re: Truly American Favorites - THE WILD BUNCH
on Apr 21, 2009 at 1:27:49 am

I'm glad you brought that to our attention David.

It's funny how the WAY you see a movie sometimes can color your memory of it. Close to the end of the movie, in the theater where I saw it, about eight young male theater employees came into the back and loudly enjoyed the shoot-out. So I missed all that esthetic stuff you noticed, and was preoccupied about the "pornography of violence" aspect: about how these young males were getting off on what was, for the time, incredibly graphic scenes of bloodshed.

This time I noticed different stuff entirely. Esp. with Prof. Weiss's introduction.

Also, the use of the zoom lens was interesting. Did Peckinpah use the zoom extensively earlier in the movie or did he just put it in at the end? It flattens the scene, makes it more two-dimensional, more mythic, compared to a truck-in.

Or, maybe it was just cheaper to twist the lens barrel than lay all that track.

Bob C


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Dave Hardy
Re: Truly American Favorites - THE WILD BUNCH
on Apr 24, 2009 at 3:43:05 am

Poor Peckinpaw. This along with Bergman' "Persona" have got to have been the most heavily cencored films of the 1960's. I've seen about a half dozen cuts of both pictures. Not sure that I ever seen the intended version from either director. It's a pity some people think films are too dangerous for people to see.

Dave

Dave Hardy


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