Sam Peckinpah, Statement of Purpose

Sam Peckinpah: A Statement of Purpose

Having completed the Universal Classic Monsters boxset, I needed a new direction, and I was feeling the need for a shorter run. I had recently picked up a couple of Sam Peckinpah films to add to the collection (Ride the High Country and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia), films that I had previously seen and knew I really liked. Peckinpah was one of the early directors that I had explored in the first days of my Netflix DVD subscription more than 15 years ago, and I remember little of it. This was also about the time when I was a student at Virginia Tech taking classes from Stephen Prince who wrote a book on Peckinpah and violence in American cinema, so I guess that’s where the interest originated from.

He’s one of those American voices that bridged the gap between the more standard Westerns of the 50s, especially on television, with the more revisionist take that became the norm today, especially through The Wild Bunch. He’s one of those important fulcrum filmmakers who helped form major changes in the industry, and I know so little about him.

Well, it’s time to rectify that.

So, his fourteen movies are in the queue, ready to spool up.

There is a particular challenge with his work that I’m going to have to navigate, though. Peckinpah is one of those filmmakers with director’s cuts. He wasn’t like Ridley Scott who works well with producers on a theatrical cut and then manages a director’s cut for home video. Peckinpah fought endlessly with producers who took final cuts away from him and recut his films to fit their own needs. Nothing was preserved for home video releases because home video wasn’t really a thing at the time. Director’s cuts from Peckinpah tend to be posthumous restorations ala Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. I’ll be using those cuts when I can, in particular around Major Dundee and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Anyway, that’s that. It’s time to start this violent journey out west.

4 thoughts on “Sam Peckinpah: A Statement of Purpose”

  1. I read a biography of him years ago, maybe your guy’s bio, I remember he was kind of a lunatic, but very skilled, has done a favorite movie of mine, so looking forward to this.

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    1. That’s what I’ve gathered.

      He was a heavy alcoholic who seemed to be largely functional if incredibly belligerent, and then he found James Caan in a bathroom snorting coke. Despite Caan telling Peckinpah that he didn’t want any part of that shit, Peckinpah did, in fact, want part of that shit.

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    1. I have considered Fuller for a run. I recently got Pickup on South Street from Netflix DVD and really enjoyed it.

      It’ll probably happen, just not within the next six months or so.

      I recommend starting with the five episodes of The Westerner that he wrote and directed, though. They say as much about Peckinpah as a filmmaker as the rest of his body of work.

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