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LGM Film Club, Part 350: The Wild Bunch

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For the sixth film in my post-birthday favorite movie binge, I went for one of my true all-time favorites, Sam Peckinpah’s violent western The Wild Bunch. While I like other Peckinpah films, this is the only one when it really all came together–a vision, a plot, the use of violence actually making sense, good characters, great actors. Is it problematic? Yes, of course it is. No question. It’s the My Lai of films, basically. The Mexicans are barely human, outside of Angel, who is himself a caricature, and the old man in the village. These are all….pretty big problems!

But the incredible power of the opening scene and credits (the kids with the ants and scorpion, my god what a brilliant choice), the intense character development for William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, and Robert Ryan; the Peckinpah weirdos on both sides of the film–Warren Oates, L.Q. Jones, etc., the excellent cinematographic choices, and then of course the ending, really it’s close to a perfect film. Especially if you like some killin’ on screen. And I like my screen killin’. Ben Johnson is pretty miscast, as much as I like the guy, but whatever, I can never complain about more Ben Johnson.

Also, read Roger Ebert’s discussion of the film. This is one of the many films he tirelessly promoted over the years. What a treasure.

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