Director: Sam Peckinpah
Screenwriters: Sam Peckinpah, Walon Green
Stars: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, Jaime Sanchez, Ben Johnson
Let's talk about violence. Released in 1969, two years after Bonnie and Clyde let the squibs pop and the blood fly, American alcoholic and film director Sam Peckinpah made a motion picture that reveled in the sort of grittiness we take for granted in our westerns. The Wild Bunch, about a group of slovenly bandits faced with a changing, even more corrupt world than the one they already inhabit, paved the way for recent classics like Unforgiven and Deadwood.
Using slow motion and aggressive editing, Peckinpah depicted the damage of bullet against flesh in a way that had audiences recoiling. The frustration of a country at war is in this picture. The frustration of a director whose inner demons would ultimately get the best of him are in this picture. Death is in this picture. —RS