Sam Peckinpah's Legendary Westerns Collection
This superb box set collects four Westerns directed by Sam Peckinpah between 1962 and 1973, two of them for MGM and two for Warner Bros. Each film is a classic and they accordingly receive the red-carpet treatment they deserve in this collection. For starters, the films have been given a thorough remastering job. All four have been given anamorphically enhanced video transfers, each in its appropriate widescreen ratio. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid also offers two different cuts of the film: the 1988 "Turner" edition of the film, which utilized a rough edit of the film that fleshed out the studio-butchered 1973 cut of the film, and a new 2005 edition that was prepared from Peckinpah's editing notes to re-edit the slacker passages of the 1988 version and also to restore material not in the 1973 or 1988 editions. In terms of audio, Ride the High Country, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid offer the original mono soundtracks, each sounding crisp and well-mastered, while The Wild Bunch receives a robust stereo remix in Dolby Digital 5.1. Plenty of noteworthy extras are included for Peckinpah aficionados to study and enjoy. First on each of the four titles is a commentary track featuring commentary by Peckinpah historians Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, and David Weddle. Each is an authority on the director's life and career as well as a seasoned film critic, so each track overflows with biographical detail, interesting behind-the-scenes stories, and some insightful analysis of Peckinpah's style and inspirations. It's also worth noting that Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid features two commentaries, one for each version of the film featured in this set. Elsewhere, the four discs also include impressive featurettes. Ride the High Country offers an interview with Fern Lea Peter, sister of Sam Peckinpah, that offers a lot of insight into how the director's childhood experiences shaped both his view of the world and his cinematic obsessions. The Ballad of Cable Hogue features an interview with Stella Stevens in which she reflects on her career and how her work with Peckinpah fit into it. The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid are two-disc affairs that offer more than one featurette. The Wild Bunch's second disc includes two documentaries: "An Album in Montage" (which appeared on the original DVD for The Wild Bunch) and "Sam Peckinpah's West," a feature-length documentary produced by Starz Encore Entertainment. The disc is rounded out by an excerpt from a Nick Redman documentary on The Wild Bunch and a montage of edited shots from the film, set to the strains of Jerry Fielding's score. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid's second disc offers a pair of featurettes, one interviewing longtime Peckinpah assistant Katy Haber about the chaotic history of the film and a Kris Kristofferson interview that covers his career and memories of working with Peckinpah. In a fitting tribute, the second disc for Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid also includes a segment with Kristofferson and Donnie Fritts performing a pair of songs dedicated to Peckinpah. The extras package for each film is rounded out by a Sam Peckinpah trailer gallery that includes all the films in the set, plus The Getaway. All in all, The Peckinpah Western Collection offers four classic Westerns in DVD editions that excel in both transfer quality and extras. No self-respecting Peckinpah buff should pass it up.