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Plot: In the Wild Bunch the movie opens with a group of aging outlaw's final score, a bank robbery. The event concludes with a violent and overtly bloody shootout that would generally mark the finale of a movie. This is correct in that it marks the finale of an era, for the characters and the world they live in. They simply can no longer keep up, the times are changing, technology advancing, and they're style of life is getting left behind in the dust that they spent so long galloping through. They abandon their careers for the simpler life of retirement. They enjoy this time, they live their fantasies. During this time the law is always on their tracks, bounty hunters. The further into their fantasy they get, the closer their demise seems to get. When one of their own is captured they are faced with the choice of escape or what is certainly a suicide mission to attempt and free their fallen behind comrade. For them it is not a choice. They all die in what can only be described as a nauseatingly gore filled bloodbath of a battle. They might have succeeded in removing themselves from the wild west however they could not be separated what is inherently their nature. The west was only wild because the wild bunch were present, they influenced their surroundings, not the other way around. It is only after the final shoot out that the bounty hunters catch up with them, now only bullet riddled corpses. They never got caught, they could never get caught because they were already trapped in their own personalities. They turned themselves in to their instincts. The vacation, the fantasy, was bound to end and they knew it. Runtime: 145 mins Release Date: 17 Jun 1969
Peckinpah's ode to the closing of the American west. (by Batjac - 49)
Probably one of the most controversial films ever made, the Wild Bunch was equally hated and admired upon it's release over 30 years ago. Even today, as proof of it's staying power, it is still widely debated if Sam Peckinpah made a masterpiece or a monstrosity. Personally, I'm of the firm belief that Peckinpah contributed one of the finest American films of the last century.The chemistry that Peckinpah was able to put on celluloid for this film is brilliant. William Holden and Ernest Borgnine as the leaders of the Bunch, play their roles with conviction and tenacity. Robert Ryan, <more>
once an outlaw with Holden, and now forced to hunt him down, portrays the tortured individual caught between an old friendship and the threat of incarceration in a vicious prison. Ben Johnson and Warren Oates are solidly believable as real life brothers as they depict their roles as Tector and Lyle Gorch, and finally Jaime Sanchez rounds out the gang as the fiercely patriotic Mexican, Angel.Also a Peckinpah movie wouldn't be complete without L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin portraying the cowardly, scheming, body robbing bounty hunters eager for the money on the heads of the Wild Bunch.This is a film that you can re-visit time and time again and relish the depth of the characters and feel their desperation as the west that they once knew has now become a distant memory.Apart from the great casting, the tight scripting , exciting stuntwork, wonderful cinematography, gripping dialogue, and first class editing of the gunfights, this movie will be continually looked upon as one of the most important films of American cinema.See it, enjoy it and experience great movie making!!
The definitive end of the west Western (by John-376)
An incredible performance by Bill Holden is the high point of this sensational, landmark film. Holden made a whole career out of laid-back, easy-going, what-the-hell sort of characters but here, at his zenith, he departs from type and plays a character so mean and so embittered that in some ways he even out-Bronsons Bronson himself.The Wild Bunch is a group of disillusioned outlaws who are out of time and they know it. When Sykes says that they've got one of those things a car up north that can fly, they gloomily accept that this new-fangled 20th Century is not for them.It is a movie <more>
all about values and about a man's loyalty to his companions. Holden brilliantly declares that if you cannot stand by a man who rides with you, you are like some kind of animal. In the end, that is all these hunted men have: their loyalty to each other.And so they band together for one last walk to try and rescue their doomed Mexican comrade. The bloodbath that follows is an eloquent summary of their lives. They who live by the gun.....Superb performances by Holden in particular and also by O'Brien, Ryan, Borgnine, Oates and Johnson. Peckinpah's finest hour. Definitely ten out of ten.
Peckinpah's film marked the passing of the old West in an orgy of destruction, as its heroes go down with all guns blazing.... (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
If "Shane" makes a myth of the West, "The Wild Bunch" demythologizes it... If "Shane" draws sharp moral distinctions that are, literally, black and white, "The Wild Bunch" spoils all moral distinctions, offering us only choices between different modes of immorality... If in "Shane" violence is viewed as a necessary evil only to be employed as a last resort, and killing is depicted as fast and pure, in "The Wild Bunch" violence is viewed with exaltation, and killing is prolonged, tormented, and bloody..."Shane" delivered an <more>
old traditional story, a legend, a fabulous hero who idealized the West... "The Wild Bunch" presents it stormy, disturbing, hard to control, and blood-thirsty... In short, within the genre of the Western, "The Wild Bunch" is the precise opposite of "Shane." Each film may be considered an artifact of a view of the American frontier... "Shane," made during the quietude of 1953, romanticizes and idealizes... "The Wild Bunch," made fifteen years later in a turbulent time, tells us that the American Dream is dead...The opening sequence of "The Wild Bunch" stakes out the virtue of the wild territory... A gang of desperadoes disguised as U. S. soldiers rides into a town, passing children torturing scorpions and adults attending a temperance meeting... The action starts inside the office when Pike, the leader of the bunch warns his men saying: 'If they move, kill'em!'The Bunch robs the railway office, then finds itself ambushed by a gang of bounty hunters working for the railroad... A savage gunfight erupts, many innocents people are killed, and in few minutes, we discover that we are in middle of a territory full of rage and fury, in a terrain that is beyond good or evil, where the abusing use of force is beyond any reason...Holden's group was never easy to handle... There is conflict and tension among them They range from the more idealistic Mexican member, Jaime Sanchez, to the wild Gorch brothers, Warren Oates and Ben Johnson But what binds them together in the last resort is their life-style and its demanding loyalty Holden puts it this way: 'When you side with a man, you stay with him, and if you can't do that, you're some kind of animal, you're finished. We're finished. All of us.'If there are any myths left unexploded in the film, they take place on the Mexican side of the border, where the bandits' departure from a village is staged as it might have been in "Shane." The time of the film is 1913, when the American frontier was closing fast... Mexico, on the other hand, was still a romantic era, the time of Pancho Villa and the Mexican Revolution...Peckinpah's reputation was well known... He was an expert in violence, offering furious scenes with intense emotion and anger, even immoderately beyond the limit, making his film more important, more powerful, and memorable... Peckinpah sacrificed some two hundred people, most of them accentuated in slow motion, men falling with exaggerated blood flowing out their body...We even witness the execution of one of Pike's man, seeing with astonishment how his throat is slashed with a knife... Mel Gibson carried it exactly and excessively, in his superb epic tale "Braveheart," when he showed us how a lovely bride is slain in the same way... His film was probably influenced by "The Wild Bunch" at least as I think with its technique and style...The 'savor' of violence in 'slow motion' makes us understand the passion of Peckinpah toward violence... This pleasure for killing, this irresistible exhibition, this 'performance of death' as Peckinpah expressed it himself, could be interpreted maybe as criticism to violence..."The Wild Bunch" is splendidly acted... William Holden as Pike, was never so magnificent since "Stalag 17" as I remember... It seems that Holden understood the message, specially in the brilliant scene when he clearly decides to rescue one of his men... This particular shot was outstanding because it involved Holden in a great embarrassment with zero dialog... Another proof was also the scene between Robert Ryan and Albert Dekker disputing about the bounty hunters, the 'trash' as Ryan called them...The climax of the motion picture is astonishing... After Pike had shot the general, he and his pals stood 'peaceful' for a moment facing the Mexican soldiers... The wild bunch was already condemned... Nobody will survive... They were aware of it, we were aware of it... But in their mind, there was a certain determination to take with them as many Mexicans as they can... The seconds passed and in the moment that Pike puts a bullet between the eyes of a German adviser, we were in front of the bloodiest slaughter ever seen on the silver screen... Too much blood for a picture filmed in 1969... Mel Gibson exhilarating fashioned epic, repeated it in the battlefield in "Braveheart."Now, if you consider "The Wild Bunch" a film against Classic Westerns, the action scenes are at its finest quality in the hijack of Pike's bunch to the army munitions train, and the long range shot, in slow motion, of the exploding bridge with Ryan and his bounty hunters..."The Wild Bunch" depicts the Mexican music, life in the villages, their special cult to the death, their drunken fiesta, their women, the keen look at the Mexican face, especially the faces of the children, sometimes observers, sometimes participating in the whole twisted ethic of violence One last note: Desperation and death wish ride side by side in Peckinpah's motion picture... If the Bunch Holden, Borgnine, Oates, Johnson, Sanchez and veteran outlaw Edmond O'Brien are desperate, their bounty-hunter pursuers are no less so...
Critics of Sam Peckinpah generally focus on the gore and violence in his films. "The Wild Bunch" will probably not assuage these critics, but the violence is not gratuitous. In fact, it is almost perfectly meshed in this story of a group of outlaws held together by some frail and some strong bonds who realize that their era - and probably their lives - are almost at an end. The story also deals with a man Robert Ryan who was wounded and forced out of the gang, and who must now capture and kill his friend William Holden , with no option other than to succeed. This film is also <more>
about loyalty, choice and honor, and is carried by surprisingly strong acting and writing. Yes the violence is on a large scale which seems to be commonplace for films portraying the Mexican Revolution , but it is completely in place with these characters and the era in which they live. This is not always a pleasant film to watch, but it is very rewarding, and may be the best film Peckinpah made.
Peckinpah has a rep and this is the film which provided most of it. I had the privilege of actually seeing this on the big screen once, in the late seventies. As the beginning credits end, Pike Holden tells his bunch "If they move, Kill 'em!" Then Peckinpah's credit appears. A woman seated behind me gasped, whispering "oh, no..." Oh, my. It sounded like the lady didn't know she'd wandered into a Peckinpah film and she knew what she was in for. When you enter Peckinpah-land, you need to be prepared. There are no punches pulled, no sidestepping the <more>
unpleasant aspects of life. Peckinpah's characters are tough men; I mean, really tough, not phony-Hollywood tough. In this case, they are coarsened by what seems to be years on the trail, blasted by the sun, snapped at by rattlesnakes, and harassed by bandits. And at this point, they've pretty much had it.Not that they're complaining, mind you. They've lived their lives how they saw fit, this bunch, and they make no apologies for any of it. I believe the actual year is around 1913, just before World War I begins. Most of the action takes place in Mexico, where the Bunch becomes involved with a local general Fernandez with the usual delusions of grandeur. If you go by the name of the character Angel, the general can be viewed as a version of the devil. That would make the Bunch avenging angels at the end. But heroes? No, not at all. They have their own code, they know instinctively they're stronger together than on each own, but they reason this concept out also - Peckinpah wants to make sure it's clear these are not unthinking savages. They're just men, who've reached a point in history where they must make a crucial turn. History, it seems, has no real use for them anymore. It's quite simple - they either fade slowly or go out quickly. In a film such as this, with its now insurmountable rep, you tend to wait for those big set pieces, especially the climactic battle. Wait for it, wait for it... here it is. Bam! - you're in Peckinpah territory. You're a part of history.
The Western was a staple of the movie industry from it's earliest beginnings until they started to fade from popularity by in the 60's and were becoming increasingly rare by decades end. They never really died of course but good ones became far and few between. This is one the most extravagantly violent shoot-em-up western's ever made. director Sam Peckinpaugh seeing they might be on their way out wanted them to go out with a bang in his film The Wild Bunch. A great ensemble cast here includes William Holden, Ernest Borginine, Robert Ryan, Edmund O' Brien, and Warren Oates <more>
with great character actors Strother Martin, Ben Johnson and Dub Taylor. Veteran cinematographer Lucien Ballard who would have a 55 year career as at his best here. Versatile art director ed Carrere worked on his final film in The Wild Bunch and Lou Lombardo who was given the complicated job of film editing this movie turned out a fine product. It received two Academy Award nominations for music, and screenplay but should have received more and especially for sound. May be to overboard on violence for some but I would give this epic western a 9.0 out of 10 and recommend it.
Still Savage, Still Bloody, Still Great (by slokes)
"The Wild Bunch" is one of those movies people don't agree on, even those that agree it's great. It's definitely complex, entertaining in a disturbing way, and manages to be at once nihilistic and moralistic, not an easy trick, especially for a cowboy film.The first problem we have to deal with when watching this film is the fact there's very quickly a gunfight going on and, against all movie convention, no one to root for. There's an all-star cast on one side, including William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, and Warren Oates, but against all expectation, <more>
they turn out to be a pretty black crew. About the first thing out of Holden's mouth, said about a cowed group of innocents, is "If they move, kill 'em," and before the battle is over, we've seen him and his team commit all sorts of savagery. About the only reason we don't immediately see them as evil is that the people they battle are no better.Over time, we are encouraged to find something of value in Holden's Pike Bishop and his ruthless confederates, as they ride away, lick their wounds, and try to figure out how to get something else going, anything. The only problem is its 1913 and these outlaws are running out of time and options. "I'd like to make one good score and back off," is how Pike says it, to which Borgnine's faithful buddy Dutch exclaims: "Back off to what?!"Chasing the bunch, and offering the viewer the film's one sympathetic character, is Robert Ryan as Deke Thornton, a former partner of Pike's who doesn't want to go back to jail and for whom killing the bunch is the one unpleasant means of securing his freedom. Ryan, who died in 1973, is probably not as recognizable as the other leads today, but he lends a sad, elegiac presence to his on-screen moments that give the film much of its grace and warmth.The final star is director Sam Peckinpah, who made a truly revolutionary film that not only pushed the art of film forward but holds up today as a cinematic experience. Time has been kind to this film in a way it hasn't to other ground-breaking auteur moments from the same era, like "MASH" and "Easy Rider." When "The Wild Bunch" came out just as the 1960s were ending, people were truly shocked by the violence and cruel characters. Today, of course, such things are so common, and so mindlessly celebrated, that we find ourselves admiring what Peckinpah does for the surprisingly subtle and restrained way he goes about presenting us with mayhem and carnage, and his refusal to glorify it, however exciting and entertaining the overall package.Surprisingly for a director who had trouble getting work at the time, Peckinpah landed three Oscar winners in the cast, and a fourth, Ben Johnson, who'd win his a couple of years later. Obviously, the acting is strong, each player investing his spare lines with the right degree of space and spirit, but it's probably worked even better that the movie game in 1969 was in the process of passing the fuddy-duddy likes of Holden, Borgnine, and Edmond O'Brien behind. This makes them very believable as a group of hard-nosed has-beens. In that light, it's kind of cool how hip this film so quickly became when it was released.It's such a good film it's easy to overlook minor weaknesses. There's a nice bit of symbolism in the beginning, now famous, where the gang rides past a group of children tormenting scorpions and ants, but the point, once made, is beaten into the ground. There are some bits of convenience that stick out, like when a gunned-down outlaw rises and mows down his attackers with a few too-precise shotgun blasts. The general dislikeability of just about everything and everybody does feel a bit of a weight after a couple of viewings.But what's great is just awesome, especially that opening sequence and the final showdown at Bloody Porch. Such terrific punch-drunk ambiance, it's almost a shame to watch it sober. The feeling of a new era coming upon us, which we see in everything from the doughboy uniforms at the outset to the car General Mapache rides around in, is redoubled by the glorious splendor, even clarity of this picture. Is it too much to praise a movie for the quality of the film stock itself? This is a paradox film, one about obsolescence and growing old that remains startling new-looking and fresh 35 years on.
Pekinpah's best movie with magnificent scenes and stimulating images (by ma-cortes)
1913, nine men who came too late and stayed too long . This is the story about some men making their last stand . At the beginning , the wild bunch holds up a bank of Texas , but it goes wrong . The misfit group is formed by Dutch Ernest Borgnine , the Gorch brothers Ben Johnson, Warren Oates , Angel Jaime Sanchez , Sykes Edmond O'Brien and commanded by Pike William Holden . After that , they go to Mexican territory , being pursued by Thorton Robert Ryan and his ragtag band Peckinpah's usual : Strother Martin and L. Q. Jones . At the ending the Wild Bunch makes their <more>
last stand against a cruel Mexican general Emilio Fernandez .This excellent Western packs lots of action , shootouts, and explosive violence . Taut excitement throughout , beautifully photographed and spectacular bloodletting filmed in slow moving . Rich in texture and including intelligent screenplay full of incredibly lyrics scenes by Peckinpah and Roy Sickner , also producer . Vibrant as well as brilliant all-star-cast displays exceptional performances . Holden and Ryan are perfect as the older gunfighters with their own ethic codes . Furthermore , good secondaries as Bo Hopkins , Albert Dekker , L.Q Jones and Strother Martin gives one of the best performances . Colorful cinematography filmed in Mexico by Lucien Ballard in Technicolor and Panavision . Spectacular and sensitive musical score by Jerry Fielding , including Mexican popular song titled 'Golondrina' that is emotively sung when the bunch comes out of the Mexican village . The motion picture was stunningly directed by Sam Peckinpah , creating a true classic . Restored and reissued various times with diverse running . The Wild Bunch is a real must see for fans of the genre .
By this time, westerns had become a collection of icons, the mere flash of which evoked deep memories and stories. All you needed was some confidence, the skill all in the confidence. There's a selfreferential aspect to the hero we'd often see, as he would himself be a paragon of confidence in delivering our referenced vision.This was thought to turn that on its head by having the avatar we share with the filmmaker be a bad guy. "Bonnie and Clyde" had played a similar game the year before, and in a genre with a similar mechanism. But the gangster picture was less richly <more>
iconic, the vocabulary relatively small, closed. "Butch Cassady" would come a few months later and turn the western into a refection of the present instead of past, foundation stories folding the "gang" into Sergeant Pepper. So when I watch this again, I do so looking at icons and watching how they've been tampered with. This comment addresses two.One is the women. I seem to remember criticism at the time that this was misogynist, though its hard to see how it could have been deemed worse than its predecessors. Its mighty hard to beat "The Quiet Man" where John Wayne, after serial episodes of recreational drunken fighting, drags his selected but reluctant sweetie by the hair through cow pies.In "Wild Bunch," the woman trigger everything. A woman is behind the chief crook's motivation, her death also causing a physical wound that haunts him. Another woman, the Mexican's girl friend, runs away with the murderer of his father. The encounter with her is what everything revolves around. A third woman, a presumably permanently alluring prostitute, is what causes the two best friends to be separated before the movie begins and one friend to hunt the other. Oh, there are armies and robberies and shootings, but these are embodiments of womenly encounters. It matters because by this time noir had permeated everything but the western. The only way to introduce it was obliquely, through a force that's offscreen, that western notion of romance that exists only at the demigod level.The second thing to look for is the key shot, the one scene around which everything is built. The one shot that it is in the filmmaker's mind as he first wakes up and remembers the work. Sometimes the filmmaker tells you what it is. You may be fooled into thinking it is the shot in the beginning where scorpions are tortured by children. For me it comes 43 minutes into the director's cut. There are two outlaws in the gang that are also outlaws within the gang, more bad than the others. They are with a Mexican girl, a teen, and quite pretty. She is working a cat's cradle. If you don't know it, its a string game played with a loop by on or two pairs of hands. Its quite ancient and probably evolved alongside the development of spoken language. Its really quite hardwired in our brains and a solid model of cinemagraphic qualities can be built and shared using this "string figures" notation. Their encounter with this pre-sexual woman and this graphical node is the anchor shot for me. Your's will be different of course because each of us I hope builds the world differently. But if that 30 seconds was missing, this would be a different film for me.Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.