84. Sam Peckinpah
THE WILD BUNCH, STRAW DOGS, CROSS OF IRON, BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA
His nickname was “Bloody Sam,” and the film that earned him that name and reputation was the graphically brutal and violent revisionist Western epic The Wild Bunch. If he had never made another film, this NC-17 rated flick would have cemented his reputation for making sadism and violence amazingly entertaining. In this film, and the ones that followed, Peckinpah chose to feature a conflict between a person’s values, and the violent corruption of their society. Can a quiet man survive in a nihilistic jungle? Straw Dogs, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Major Dundee, and Convoy were all fueled by graphic violence and a dark view of the world. This view may have come from the fact that Peckinpah claimed that he “couldn’t direct sober,” and his reputation as a drug abuser and boozehound haunted him wherever he worked. As volatile as the on screen action in his movies may have been, his fights with cast, crew and, studios seemed nearly as remarkable, including having his life threatened by Charlton Heston on the set of Major Dundee. His visual style was marked by rapid fire editing and composed slow motion shots. Although the films that carry his themes and techniques are relatively few due to an early death, the effect of his films on modern action movies is extensive. Filmmakers who have noted Peckinpah’s influence include John Woo, Paul Schrader, Walter Hill, Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, and Michael Mann. If anything, the thing that makes him so influential is that he was willing to glorify the unsympathetic and he never met a taboo that wasn’t worth breaking.
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