The Wild Bunch
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Rated R; Contains adult situations, language, nudity, extreme violence
BEAU'S NOTES: This brilliant film requires a deep appreciation of western movies. It violates all the "rules" set down by the Saturday Matinee style oaters (as The Searchers did years before and Unforgiven would years later) to make a statement about not only it's characters but western movies as a whole. The "Bunch" claims to live by a code of honor typical of western heros yet violates that code over and over again ... in the end, sick of themselves and how far they have fallen they pass judgement on themselves, throwing themselves into a deadly situation to "save' one of their band who is so close death he could not possibly survive. This film's bravery is that it counts on you knowing enough about Westerns and being smart enough to make a number of connections without it all being spelled out for you ... it counts on an intelligence that the studio didn't believe it's audience had. Mutilated for many years by recutting to try to "fix" it's "problems" I discovered that it only makes sense in this restored version. Truly the Apoclypse Now of Westerns ... Amazing.
Outlaws on the Mexican-U.S. frontier face the march of progress, the Mexican army and a gang of bounty hunters led by a former member while they plan a robbery of a U.S. army train. No one is innocent in this gritty tale of of desperation against changing times. Pump shotguns, machine guns and automobiles mix with horses and winchesters in this ultraviolent western.
The year is 1913 and the fading band of thieves known as the Wild Bunch (led by William Holden as Pike) decide to pull one last job before retirement. But an ambush foils their plans, and Peckinpah's film becomes an epic yet intimate tale of betrayed loyalties, tenacious rivalry, and the bunch's dogged determination to maintain their fading code of honor among thieves. The 144-minute director's cut enhances the theme of male bonding that recurs in many of Peckinpah's films, restoring deleted scenes to deepen the viewer's understanding of the friendship turned rivalry between Pike and his former friend Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan), who now leads a posse in pursuit of the bunch, a dimension that adds resonance to an already classic American film. The Wild Bunch is a masterpiece that should not be defined strictly in terms of its violence, but as a story of mythic proportion, brimming with rich characters and dialogue and the bittersweet irony of outlaw traditions on the wane.
STARRING: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, Jaime Sanchez, Ben Johnson, Emilio Fernandez, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Albert Dekker, Bo Hopkins
DIRECTED BY: Sam Peckinpah
Approxomate Running Time: 144 Minutes
U.S. and Canada only. This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries.
DVD Release Date: May 20, 1997