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on 13 January 2015
"One of the greatest movies ever made!" (Uncut) That's the sticker on the box. Not sure I agree with that, but when you look at the films: The Getaway (my all time favourite Steve McQueen movie) Straw Dogs (grossly underrated and I don't know - given what I have experienced, entirely credible - Ride the High Country, a mellow tribute to the traditional Western movie and the two stars that lived it Randolph Scott and Joel Macrea - The Ballad of Cable Hogue with another all time movie star and theatrical legend, Jason Robards and the infamous Wild Bunch.

With a list like that you have to give it to Sam Peckinpah as one of the greatest Hollywood directors of all time. His particular vision may have been fuelled by drink and drugs and led to an early demise (59) and I note Barry Norman's typically middle England disapproval of this lifestyle in his write up of the TV Documentary that aired about Peckinpah in May 2005. But who are we, who is Norman, to question those decisions and judgements that led to the creative ouput? - After all, that can be left to people with more contact and hence more justification to utter a murmer. Not us.

Perhaps Peckinpah drew in like minded similarly fuelled actors into his circle all who perished or suffered in the bright flame: Robards, Oates, Gig Young - all heavy drinkers. And the drink is always there in this film: each scene seems veiled by it. The shower scene where Benny crawls back with his trophy to his hovel and the decision to reverse the process of vengeance, to make it mean something, is laid out in an acting tour de force by Oates. But laden with alcohol.

What a supporting cast! Peckinpah seems to have had no problem with casting: lots of talent wanted to work with him. Think of Slim Pickens in The Getaway, a small but critical role. He had an unerring touch with his leading ladies too. Isela Vega here is absolutely right for the part and so worldly without ever losing the essential loveliness Benny adored.

Gig Young and Robert Webber offer a sort of indeterminately wed locked heartless contract killers on the heels of Benny and Elita, Helmut Fantine the prissy manicured Grand Dame holed up in a protected flat organising the money end. These are all canny realisations - as are the general scene dressing and sets evoking the seamy rundown end of the road locus for the action. An air of general brutality and unbelievable hardship sits curiously side by side with genteel civility. Then there is the sunglasses...the cars...

The music by Jerry Fielding is absolutely outstanding and prices for the now deleted CD soundtrack album on Ebay reflect that! Modern music meets movie music - I got a similar feel from Johnny Mandel's score for Point Blank.

If I am not strictly allowed to do this I apologise - but all the same, I leave this expert, with the last words about this film and Peckinpah, much better I think than the precious and ungenerous Barry Norman in the Radio Times, from Rick Moody writing in The Guardian, it's an article well worth Googling and reading in full:

"Alfredo Garcia is more like a B-film than the relatively high-minded fare of which one imagined Peckinpah capable after The Wild Bunch, or Straw Dogs, and The Getaway. And more like the B-films of Roger Corman than John Ford's. In a way, here at the end of his major output, the garishness, the half-heartedness of the production values, the fuzzy story and fuzzier characters remind us that at the end of his career, Peckinpah is among the undisputed poets of alcoholic cinema. Peckinpah in Alfredo Garcia never misses a chance to treat a woman badly, to make sure she shows the camera her breasts, and his joyless men seem to lust after nothing but money and rotgut drunk straight from the bottle. They have come to the end of their luck. As had the director himself. There's a desperation to Alfredo Garcia, therefore, and yet, for all that, it is hard turn away from it. Train wrecks, after all, offer a visceral satisfaction, if only for their scale.

And the very last thing Peckinpah shot? Right before his death? Julian Lennon's music videos for Vallotte and Too Late for Goodbyes. Did he need the money? Did he like playing the underdog? Was there something moving about musical advertisements for the son of a famous victim of violence? However you answer these questions, there's something starkly beautiful about Valotte. Julian Lennon, his features and his voice so unsettlingly reminiscent of his late father's, sits alone at the piano in a recording studio, as the camera seems to hover, as if from hereafter itself, at the uppermost corner of the ceiling above the performance.

There's nothing flashy or cheap about the video (in an era when cheap was the order of the day), and everything about it feels understated, even graceful. But whose heavenly ken is depicted therein? From the top of that ghostly staircase? John Lennon's point of view, lamenting a son he insufficiently came to know? Peckinpah's, who knew his time was short and that his vision, as realised, was incomplete? Maybe Valotte was a sort of funeral oratory, too - one, as in David Warner's speech from Cable Hogue, in which the orator was unable to lie."

'Inside the Head of Sam Peckinpah' Rick Moody The Guardian, 9 January 2009
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'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia' (1974) is frequently seen as the last great-work from legendary director Sam Peckinpah - though 1977's 'Cross of Iron' is worth noting, the rest ('The Osterman Weekend', 'Convoy', 'The Killer Elite') is a dissapointment. Peckinpah, a controversial director whose work was frequently re-edited 'Magnificent Ambersons'-style & aroused accusations of misogny, was behind some of the great films of the 60s and 70s: 'The Wild Bunch', 'The Getaway','Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid', 'Straw Dogs','The Ballad of Cable Hogue' (probably my personal favourite) & 'Major Dundee' (also due to be reissued in a version akin to the director's original vision...)
'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia' is fairly unpleasant stuff, and is viewed as sloppy in the excellent biography of Peckinpah 'If They Move...Kill 'Em.' I think it's very much a cult-classic, a b-movie with artistic pretensions- so its influence is extremely apparent on a director like Quentin Tarantino (as well as Roberto Rodriguez, Oliver Stone in 'U-Turn' mode, Sam Raimi, several alt-country bands & so on...) It's pretty minimal stuff - Warren Oates sets out to get the head of the eponymous Alfredo Garcia for a gangster-boss, coming across double-twists and violence & leading towards an unforgettable denoument...
'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia' is a welcome issue/reissue and leaves just a few films I love waiting for similar treatment- Bertolucci's 'The Conformist', Schrader's 'Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters' & Monte Hellman's 'Two Lane Blacktop.'
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on 10 February 2004
it's a mystery why this movie has yet to be released on dvd, it being possibly Sam Peckinpah's finest moment. Featuring the laconic Warren Oates in the lead role, it relates the story of the retrieval of Alfredo Garcia's head from a cemetary in a desolate village and the quest for the reward money being offered by a very nasty looking man who wants this particular item (cue pregnant daughter lurking in the background etc etc). Lots of shooting, lots of death, lots of singing of Guantanamera, lots of bags of ice. If you like your films weird and leftfield, seek it out. If you like your films to hold mass appeal, or like disney, go someplace else.
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on 27 January 2017
As others have commented, this release is slightly let down by the audio which I find rather odd considering the obvious lengths Arrow went to clean up the video etc. It's still, however, an indispensable addition to any Peckinah aficionado's collection and the extra content is worth the price of admission alone.
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on 11 March 2017
Peckinpah at his zenith, matched by a protean performance from Warren Oates (one of the screen's most famous "under-appreciated" geniuses). The violence, specifically appalling violence towards women, is perhaps more egregious here than in the director's previous "Straw Dogs". Yet as with most of Peckinpah's work, always towards a point and thus hard to dismiss as entirely gratuitous. Reviled by critics of its era, the piece paves the road, if an ugly and difficult one, for Scorsese and Tarantino. I highly recommend Roger Ebert's 1974 review and his later 2001 reconsideration before seeing the film; Mr. Ebert's was among the work's few champions. I did not see BMTHOAG until its DVD release in the early '00's and wished immediately that I had made time for it back in the day. In '74 I was put off by the negative reviews and general antagonism towards the director. It may be seen as his most vital, if brutal, examination of the absurdity and futility of 'machisomo' -- and the blood drenched upon those pulled into its wake. As ever, Arrow Video has outdone themselves on the blu-ray transfer and especially fine range of the extras, which will be relished by both serious film students and general fans.
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on 11 February 2017
One of sam peckinpah's classic action thrillers BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA
gets a new 4k restoration scan by Arrowfilms in 1:85:1 ratio
the picture quality does look excellent much more sharper & clearer picture than the very old MGM DVD
i can't say the same for the sound quality which is only 1.0 Mono mix which is Good but not excellent
either a 2.0 master stereo mix or 5.1 master mix would've sounded much much better these days
EXTRAS
the sam pechinpah 93min Documentary from 1993 Man of Iron has been added to this blu-ray reissue
very interesting Doco about sam's films & also his personal life aswell
the picture quality has only been upgraded with new Digital remaster in 1:85:1 ratio so there's no black pillars on either side of the screen
there's also new audio commentary by author steven prince of Savage cinema
plus the original Theatrical trailer in HD, and stills Photo gallery & making of Booklet aswell
there is also a Bonus Disc added in the blu-ray case
MAN OF IRON DIRECTORS CUT which goes for over 5hrs
all the interviews in this Directors cut are actually extended outtakes from each Interviewee from the original 1993 Doco
each extended interview goes for 30min+ incredible watching probably take you all night to watch all the outtakes
all the extended outtakes are all Digital remaster quality in 1:33:1 with black pillars on either side of the screen
Arrowfilms have also filmed new interviews with Sam's personal assistant Katy Haber, Director Paul Joyce
& Actor David warner about his role in Straw Dogs
apparently between each Extended outtake there's new interview snippets with Katy haber that's how Arrowfilms have edited this version
this Bonus Disc is only a Limited edition with this new blu-ray
so best to buy it fast beofre it's sold out & out of print
apart from the poor sound quality on the new 4k HD transfer this new blu-ray reissue is worth buying for sure
5 stars for it
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 September 2007
Peckinpah's 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia' is one of the most under-rated films of the 1970's. Starring Warren Oates as Bennie, a Piano player in a bar who stumbles upon a bounty for Alfredo Garcia. Garcia is responsible for a pregnancy but has not taken responsibility.

In a another filmmakers hands this could easily have been a total disaster, but Peckinpah turns this into one of the greatest road movies ever made. However unlike most road movies this is seriously downbeat. There is a major plot twist half way through that nobody will expect. Metaphorically Peckinpah pulls the rug from under you completely at this point, and it really is quite shocking. I agree completely with a previous reviewer who stated that it appears that Peckinpah had a free-hand with this movie.

Mostly set in Mexico the film has a dirty grubby feel to it. Bennie isn't a particularly nice character himself, being mainly interested in collecting the bounty money on Garcia. After the plot twist mentioned above though I did begin to symapthise with him. That said this is still miles away from a typical Hollywood (espcially these days) movie.

There are a few of Peckinpah's trademark slow motion shooting scenes as well as the inevitable topless women; noteably Isela Vega who gets to show off her impressive figure on a number of occasions!

I've watched the film twice now, and the second viewing only confirmed my view that this is a hugely influential film, that works on many levels.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 November 2012
El Jefe is outraged to find that his daughter has fallen pregnant to a man who has upped and gone, after learning the identity of the rascal (Alfredo Garcia), he offers one million dollars to anyone who can bring him the head of the Lothario running man. On the trail are hit men Quill & Sappensly, Bennie & his prostitute girlfriend Elita, and some other Mexican bandit types, all of them are on a collision course that will bring far more than they all bargained for.

This was the one film where director Sam Peckinpah felt he had the most control, the one where we apparently get his own cut and not some chopped up piece of work from interfering executives. Viewing it now some 34 years after its release, it stands up well as a testament to the work of a great director. On the surface it looks trashy, we have homosexual hit men, grave robbing, potential rape, murders abound, prostitution, lower than the low characters, in short the film is awash with Peckinpah traits. Yet it would be a disservice to even think this film isn't rich in thematic texture, for the journey that Bennie, our main protagonist takes is one of meaning, he is a loser, but we find him on this quest to find not only fortune, but respect and love. It's a bloody trail for sure, but it has much depth and no little Peckinpah humour to push the film to it's bloody yet triumphant finale. Warren Oates is rewarded by Peckinpah for years of sterling work for him by getting the lead role of Bennie, and he grasps it with both hands to turn in a wonderful performance that splits sadness and vibrancy with deft of ease.

Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia has a harsh quality about it, be it the violence, or be it the sadness of the characters, but what isn't in doubt to me is that it's harshness is cloaked in Peckinpah splendour. 9/10
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on 7 March 2017
A long awaited release, and well worth the wait. Remastered from original sources means superb picture and sound The reversable cover, slipsleeve and booklet display all three original cinema posters for the film between them. Ace.
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on 13 February 2015
This may not get mentioned in the same breath of "The Wild Bunch," "Cross of Iron," "Pat Garratt and Billy the Kid," or "The Getaway" but taken on its own terms, "Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia" is a worthy addition to Sam Peckinpah's C.V. Apparently, this was one of the few movies in the film-maker's career where he maintained complete control over every aspect of the film, from pre-production to post-production.
The plot needed a little tightening up in places but there is an excellent performance from one of cinema's more under-rated actors Warren Oates - who should have had more leads in his career - as well as some good support, exciting and rather x-rated action scenes and the usual breath-taking Mexican photography.
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