Mar 212013
Major Dundee

Rating: ★★★½☆
Near the end of the American Civil War, the commander of a Union prison recruits a mix of civilians, Confederate prisoners and Union troops to hunt down a band of Apache, pursuing them into Mexico, which was occupied by a French army struggling to place an Austrian prince on the throne. As the search extends into weeks and then months, the men gradually shed all traces of civilization.
Described as Moby Dick on horseback, the film became famous for director Sam Peckinpah’s mix of self-destructive behavior and brilliance. Clashing with the executives who ran the studio, the film was taken away from Peckinpah in the editing stage and a drastically shorter version was released, which was ridiculed by critics and ignored by movie-goers. Although no one knew it at the time, it was a dress rehearsal for The Wild Bunch, but it is still an impressive accomplishment on its own. Major Dundee is one of those movies where a film of the behind-the-scenes action would probably be as interesting as the final result. A restored version, based on a cut made by producer Jerry Bresler, was made in 2005, which provides a more coherent story, while revealing the movie’s flaws. Despite the flaws, it bursts with passion and brilliance. Read More…

Jul 052012
Sam Peckinpah

Sam Peckinpah (February 21, 1925-December 28, 1984) was the controversial director of The Wild Bunch (1969), Straw Dogs (1971) and The Getaway (1972). After a successful career as a writer for TV westerns, he broke into movies with Ride the High Country (1962). Capable of producing scenes of astonishing tenderness, he also created violence with shocking intensity, so he became famous for ballet-like action, earning the nickname “Bloody Sam.” A superbly talented filmmaker, who was able to place his personal vision on the screen, Peckinpah’s career was limited by a self-destructive nature. Deeply distrustful of producers, he often picked fights with the studios, so several of his movies were taken away from him and edited without his involvement, including Major Dundee (1965) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), and his career experienced lengthy slumps. Alcoholism and drug use ravaged his body until he died at the relatively young age of fifty-nine. Read More…