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Wild Bunch (1969)

Wild Bunch (1969)

4.3 9
Director: Sam Peckinpah

Cast: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan


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"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


"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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ben Wolf
Sam Peckinpah's elegiac, wildly revisionist western kicked up plenty of dust with its release in 1969, turning the cowboy flick into a kinetic, blood-splattered ballet. Sporting glorious performances by Ernest Borgnine and a remarkably vulnerable William Holden, The Wild Bunch follows a group of aging outlaws as they try to outride a posse led by a former member of the gang (Robert Ryan). As the film details the final days of men who have outlived their world -- it's 1913 and Model Ts are replacing horses -- it rushes forward by using the then-experimental technique of rapidly editing together slow-motion images. Blood flies visibly on each bullet impact, forcing audiences to consider the moral impact of violence by making them feel it on a visceral level; it was the antithesis of the safe movie violence of the Saturday matinees. Arguably Peckinpah's greatest film, The Wild Bunch changed the way in which action sequences are shot, and its influence can still be seen today in the work of such directors as John Woo, Walter Hill, and James Cameron.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
From the opening image of children happily watching fire ants kill a scorpion, Sam Peckinpah presents a relentlessly pessimistic view of frontier life in 1913 as it gives way to modernity; any sense of honor is strictly relative, and "civilization" means venal businessmen and mercenaries. The western's myth of "righteous" violence is literally blasted to pieces in the two battle sequences evocative of the 1968-69 carnage in Vietnam. In elaborately edited montages using different camera speeds and distances, Peckinpah and cinematographer Lucien Ballard show what it looks like when bullets hit flesh, drawing out moments of death amidst bloody chaos in a balletic yet repellent spectacle. The Wild Bunch eventually became a moderate hit, and it got Oscar nominations for Jerry Fielding's score and Walon Green's and Peckinpah's script. Unsatisfied with Peckinpah's 145-minute cut, Warner Bros. pulled the film after its debut and shaved 10 minutes of exposition but left the violence intact. The footage was fully restored in 1995. With its stunning technical finesse and uncompromising view of the West's bloody demise, The Wild Bunch remains one of the most powerful "last" westerns ever made.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Commentary by Peckinpah Biographers/Documentarians Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle; Additonal Scenes; 3 Documentaries: Sam Peckinpah's West: Legacy of a Hollywood Renegade, 1996 Oscar Nominee The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage, Excerpt From a Simple Adventure Story: Sam Peckinpah, Mexico and the Wild Bunch, a Documentary Film by Nick Redman; Peckinpah Movie Trailer Gallery.

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
William Holden Pike
Ernest Borgnine Dutch
Robert Ryan Thornton
Edmond O'Brien Sykes
Warren Oates Lyle Gorch
Jaime Sanchez Angel
Ben Johnson Tector Gorch
Emilio Fernandez Mapache
Strother Martin Coffer
L.Q. Jones T.C.
Albert Dekker Harrigan
Bo Hopkins Crazy Lee
Dub Taylor Wainscoat
Paul Harper Ross
Jorge Russek Lt. Zamorra
Alfonso Arau Herrera
Chano Urueta Don José
Elsa Cardenas Elsa
Bill Hart Jess
Rayford Barnes Buck
Sonia Amelio Teresa
Aurora Clavel Aurora
Enrique Lucero Ignacio
Rene Dupeyron Juan
Pedro Galvan Benson
Fernando Wagner Mohr
Margarito Luna Luna

Technical Credits
Sam Peckinpah Director,Screenwriter
Lucien Ballard Cinematographer
Edward Carrere Art Director
Clifford C. Coleman Asst. Director
William Faralla Production Manager
Phil Feldman Producer
Jerry Fielding Score Composer
Fred Gammon Asst. Director
Walon Green Original Story,Screenwriter
Albert S. Greenway Makeup
Bud Hulburd Special Effects
Lou Lombardo Editor
Roy N. Sickner Original Story
Jack Williams Stunts


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Wild Bunch 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1969, Sam Peckinpah took Sergio Leone's reinvention of the western genre in the mid-60s portraying ambivalent drifters as protagonists in films such as 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly' to a next level with 'The Wild Bunch'. With even more audacity than Leone, Peckinpah presents a western where there are really no true heroes or good archetypes. All of the characters, even those seemingly respectable, are beasts seeking to save their own skin at any cost. Whereas Leone gives his Blondie character a consistent moral code to some degree throughout the film, Peckinpah's characters are constantly immoral opportunists almost until the end. When the characters finally seek to present some semblance of morals or good deeds, they die. This theme recurs through scenery and script. For example, the opening scene shows the bunch entering town for a heist while they pass children putting scorpions against ants and then setting them on fire for thrills. The audience is thus fixed in the idea that one's pain and suffering is meaningless amusement to others. The characters' indifference to life is made clear with lines such as 'If they move, kill them!' Altogether one of the best westerns ever made.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Certainly one of the most brilliant Westerns (if not movies in general), the Wild Bunch carries the full weight of a time changing from the old Western days to civilization and its discontents. This is probably by far the most well known of Peckinpah's cinematic efforts and the most ifluential film of the 60's, especially in its portrayal of violence. The True Western at its best
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I am too young to have seen The Wild Bunch in 1969, I am quite aware of the impact the film has had on the depiction of violence over the past 30+ years. Before The Wild Bunch, only Bonnie and Clyde had brought the reality of gun-wrought violence to the masses. The Wild Bunch itself ratcheted up the level of carnage in an attempt to mirror that of the then-current Vietnam War, although such an equation could never be equal in light of the revelations of war crimes on the part of the U.S. Army. The revulsion which the film evoked on the parts of critics and filmgoers alike is humorous in light of the fact that most of those who despised the film supported the actions of the U.S. in Vietnam wholeheartedly. What The Wild Bunch ultimately did as a film was to force the U.S. to take a good long look at the effects of wanton violence and bloodshed. That the nation seems to have forgotten such a lesson is all the more reason for this film to be constantly revived and shown.
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