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Sam Peckinpah's Legendary Westerns Collection

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Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Westerns
Languages: English, French
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Synopsis
This collection contains the following titles
  • The Wild Bunch: The Original Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1969)

    "If they move, kill 'em!" Beginning and ending with two of the bloodiest battles in screen history, Sam Peckinpah's classic revisionist Western ruthlessly takes apart the myths of the West. Released in the late '60s discord over Vietnam, in the wake of the controversial Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and the brutal "spaghetti westerns" of Sergio Leone, The Wild Bunch polarized critics and audiences over its ferocious bloodshed. One side hailed it as a classic appropriately pitched to the violence and nihilism of the times, while the other reviled it as depraved. After a failed payroll robbery, the outlaw Bunch, led by aging Pike Bishop (William Holden) and including Dutch (Ernest Borgnine), Angel (Jaime Sanchez), and Lyle and Tector Gorch (Warren Oates and Ben Johnson), heads for Mexico pursued by the gang of Pike's friend-turned-nemesis Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan). Ultimately caught between the corruption of railroad fat cat Harrigan (Albert Dekker) and federale general Mapache (Emilio Fernandez), and without a frontier for escape, the Bunch opts for a final Pyrrhic victory, striding purposefully to confront Mapache and avenge their friend Angel. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

  • The Wild Bunch(bonus disc) (1969)

  • Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1973)

    A former friend betrays a legendary outlaw in Sam Peckinpah's final Western. Holed up in Fort Sumner with his gang between cattle rustlings, Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) ignores the advice of comrade-turned-lawman Pat Garrett (James Coburn) to escape to Mexico, and he winds up in jail in Lincoln, New Mexico. After Billy theatrically escapes, inspiring enigmatic Lincoln resident Alias (Bob Dylan) to join him, the governor (Jason Robards Jr.) and cattle baron Chisum (Barry Sullivan) requisition Garrett to form a posse and hunt him down. Rather than flee to Mexico when he can, Billy heads back to Fort Sumner, meeting his final destiny at the hands of his friend Pat, who, two decades later, is forced to face the consequences of his own Faustian pact with progress. With a script by Rudolph Wurlitzer, Peckinpah uses the historical basis of Billy's death to eulogize the West dreamily yet violently as it is desecrated by corrupt capitalists. Both Pat and Billy know that their time is passing, as surely as Garrett's posse knows that they are participating in a legend. Using familiar Western players like Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado, Peckinpah underscores the West's existence as a media myth, and he even appears himself as a coffin maker. Just as the bloodletting of Peckinpah's earlier The Wild Bunch (1969) invoked the Vietnam War, the casting of Kristofferson and Dylan alluded to the chaotic late '60s/early '70s present; the counterculture has little place in a corporate future. Also like The Wild Bunch, Pat Garrett was truncated by its studio; the cuts did nothing to help its box office. Key scenes, particularly the framing story of Garrett's fate, have since been restored to the home-video version. In this director's cut, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid stands as one of Peckinpah's most beautiful and complex films, killing the Western myth even as he salutes it. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

  • Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid(bonus disc) (1973)

  • The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)

    After the intense bloodshed of The Wild Bunch (1969), this comic western fable took the opposite approach to director Sam Peckinpah's continuing examination of the end of the West. Left for dead by a couple of lizard-slaughtering desperados in the middle of the desert, prospector Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) is saved by his unexpected discovery of water "where there wasn't any." Hogue turns the water hole, felicitously located near a stagecoach route, into a thriving business, creating a rest stop for a never-ending series of parched travelers. On his occasional trips to the closest town, he meets chipper prostitute Hildy (Stella Stevens), who joins him in his oasis, completing Hogue's little paradise. But even though Hogue may be able to succeed and avenge himself against his original attackers, there is one thing that he cannot stop: progress. Completed before The Wild Bunch was released, and replete with comical and even musical interludes, Peckinpah's gently picaresque telling of Hogue's rise and fall stands in distinct contrast to the visual violence of its predecessor. The underlying message about the cost of modernity, however, equals The Wild Bunch in seriousness. The callous randomness of Hogue's fate is as shocking as the Bunch's final blaze of glory; as in Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller from the same period, a tool of "civilization" provokes a most uncivilized end for an Old West dreamer. Although the film was as light-hearted in approach as the 1969 smash hit revisionist western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Warner Bros. mishandled the release and it did barely any business; Peckinpah returned to his trademark gore in his next film, the controversial Straw Dogs (1971). Still, The Ballad of Cable Hogue is less an anomaly for a master of violence than an ironically charming chapter in Peckinpah's career-long elegy to the western. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

  • Ride the High Country (1962)

    Sam Peckinpah's feature film directorial debut was intended as the cinematic swan song for both Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea; while McCrea would unexpectedly emerge from retirement, this 1961 western serves as an excellent valedictory for both men. The time is the early 1900s, when the Old West was slowly and stubbornly giving way to the new. McCrea plays Steve Judd, an ex-lawman living on the fringes of poverty but maintaining his dignity and honesty. Hired to escort a gold shipment from the wide-open mining town of Coarse Gold, he engages his old pal Gil Westrum (Scott) to help him. But Gil hasn't Steve's integrity, and he and his young saddle pal Heck Longtree (Ronald Starr) hope to talk Steve into helping them steal the gold. En route to Coarse Gold, the three riders spend the night at the farm of a religious fanatic (R.G. Armstrong), whose daughter Elsa (Mariette Hartley in her film debut), chafing at her father's loud piety, is planning to elope with her boyfriend Billy (James Drury). The next day, Elsa insists on joining up with the group so she can marry Billy at Coarse Gold, leading to numerous complications and, of course, a final shoot-out that allows Steve and Gil to reconcile their differences and pave the way for the film's elegiac finale. Released at the tail end of the western genre, and virtually thrown away by MGM, Ride the High Country feels like an elegy for the western itself -- and Peckinpah himself would go on to revise western conventions with such later efforts as The Wild Bunch (1969) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide




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