on 27 August 2015
Just about the best Western ever made. At the time it was attacked for its gratuitous violence but as director Sam Peckinpah said watch children play cowboys and lndians they just grab their chest and fall down imitating being shot. He wanted to show what it was like to really get shot. The force would throw you backwards and leave a bloody mess. Add a great cast with none trying to out do the other and you have a well acted film. Although set in 1913 it shows how a group of aging outlaws try to make one more score before their way of life dies forever and the disastrous consequences it brings
on 3 November 2000
I had never seen "Wild Bunch" before so decided to buy it after a strong recomendation. I wasn't disappointed. The film is fantastic. It has all of the elements that you would expect a western to contain. The action sequences speak for themself. The only downside to this great film is that the disc is a flipper. Why??? It seems that flippers are gone now, but why in the early days did they have to put such great films as "Goodfellas, The Rock, Air Force One and The Wild Bunch" on flippers. A MUST BUY DVD ANYWAY, EVEN THOUGH A BOX SET COULD BE ON ITS WAY VERY SOON.
on 14 January 2012
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Cross of Iron, The Wild Bunch...all decades old, all very different - and all imprinted with Sam Peckinpah's peerless ability to depict the visceral shock of violence in a stunning cinematic way - in that he pretty much stands alone. It's the end of the road for the Wild Bunch, as they look for that last big robbery that will release them from their life of crime - but you know that's never going to happen. The legendary bank job opens the film, as the gang go about their business in an unsettlingly calm and professional way - and the town's population gets blown all to hell. After that it's cat and mouse as Deke Thornton (a quietly impressive Robert Ryan), having sold his soul, tries to track down his old buddies. William Holden as gang leader Pike Bishop is in imperious form, marked by his world weariness, his recognition that it's the end of the road, and his utter loyalty to his crew. The last walk of the four remaining members of the Bunch to reclaim fallen colleague Angel is a nerve tingling lead up to the thrilling finale. Whilst you know what's coming, that thunderously bloody climax is still one of cinema's all time classics. The noise, confusion, blood & gore, balletic slowmo death throes, rough and ready editing (so appropriate here) - in my view this is the most dramatic and gripping shoot out of them all (and that includes the epic climax of Saving Private Ryan). It's Peckinpah's greatest - and that's saying something...
on 5 April 2016
This is the masterpiece of Peckinpah with a wonderful William Holden and a very impressive Borgnine. It is the last western movie, only Clint Eastwood with Pale Rider and Unforgiven will match this movie story.
on 3 March 2009
This Blu-Ray comes from the tombes of western making USA, end of the 6T's. It's strange that, while half of the population was making love (movies), this film is as close as one could get to a gruesome, nailbiting thriller or a gore infested horror flick à la SAW (at the time).
Digital Transfer is impeccable, with even a little omber shine to give it an older look. I didn't noticed any artifacts, nor in picture, nor in sound. It looks almost better than the original.
It sure is more raw than a bunch of other westerns ; no spagetti for this one, but hot Chili Con Carne!
'The Wild Bunch' is set during the early part of the '20th century' .....a time when the day of the Outlaw was coming to an end.
The gang featured in the film are set-up by the rail bosses, who the gang had robbed from over and over, this time the outlaws were robbing a bank.....but.......gunmen were waiting on the roof tops, led by former gang member 'Deke Thornton' (Robert Ryan) who has been offered freedom in return for killing the key figures of 'The Wild Bunch'
After the failed robbery the surviving members planned one last heist, to rob a train of it's cargo..........weapons...to sell for. 'Gold' the buyer a 'Mexican' General who was leading a small army and thus controlling the villages in location of his stronghold..
'William Holden' (Pike Bishop) and 'Ernest Borgnine' (Dutch Engstrom) head the cast, leading the so called 'Wild Bunch' their pursuers from the off led by 'Deke Thornton' (Robert Ryan)
This is a gritty and graphic Western which contains perhaps the most dramatic finale of all time, with a frantic guns blazing treat.
A film that is again worth a re-visit.....A 'CLASSIC' WESTERN.
on 30 November 2013
Like many of the great westerns, there's a lot of length in TWB, and no end of sequences that you tend to forget when you're thinking about it. There are many, many parallels with that other wondrous western of the same year, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", and I think this was driven hard to hit the cinema first because of those similarities. Both tease you along between brilliant set pieces in an almost gentle, lazy way. Josey Wales does the same. I often wonder whether TWB and BCATSK are really about the same characters, and had they been made at different times, Pike would have been introduced to us as Butch and Dutch as Sundance. The real Cassidy's gang was of course, the Wild Bunch Gang, though the connection isn't always strongly made, even when similarities are mentioned. I guess the parallels are easy to draw, like ley lines, and may have as little foundation. Both are brilliant movies, not just amongst the best westerns, but amongst the best of movies. One grim, one humorous, like 28 Days Later and Sean of the Dead.
Each movie is a hymn to the end of a time in the West, and both engender empathy with the protagonists in their different ways. Both do leave you with real sadness. Well me, anyway.
TWB, in its set pieces, from the opening shoot-out, the train robbery, to the final shoot-out, is thrilling to watch. So many sadly-missed actors cast giant shadows in this, I won't bother to list them; Robert Ryan's Deke Thornton is sometimes as dogged as the perfect Pinkerton man, at others he's a tad reluctant, possibly marking his out the THE performance of the movie, but amongst this crowd of great he-men, well, it's just full of great stuff.
The comradeship element amongst really hard men is well done and gives that touch of humanity to the characters, so much deeper than most of the shallow stuff of today.
Whatever, this is a really, really, great movie, essential viewing for the Western lover, and who knows, that 18 rating on the box might be, what, a 12 today?
Sam Peckinpah's struggles against alcohol and drug abuse have been well documented. But out of the fire of tragic lives, sometimes greatness is forged. We see it in the blazing sunflowers of Van Gough and the Polynesian beauties of Gaugin. We hear it in the music of Mozart and Sibelius. And so it is with Peckinpah who has left us with his legacy of films that place him on the top run in the pantheon of the worlds film makers. Films that transcend their own genre and which come awfully close to achieving greatness.
The Wild Bunch is Sam Peckinpahs masterwork, although "Ride the high Country" makes it a close run thing. It has a richness to it that gives it lasting power. While other films fade or disappoint when watching again, the Wild Bunch continues to mature like a good port. So many scenes that take the breath away. The carefully managed blowing up of the bridge. One of the great action shots in film history. A truly wonderful cast. The gaunt and ageing Pike Bishop played by an ill William Holden. Robert Ryan in perhaps the greatest role in his long career as the ex gang member. And what a supporting cast of old Peckinpah stalwarts. Ben Johnson ex world rodeo champion, Warren Oates, Ernest Borgnine and a gnarled and unrecogniseable Edmond O'Brien to name just a few. Great actors in their own right.
Mexico provides the background as it did in many of Peckinpahs films. The old West is on the way out and it is clear the gang have had their day. As Alan Ladd says to the very bad Jack Palance in Shane before gunning him down. "Your killing days are over." And so it is for the gang. The only difference is they have the choice of how to exit, and boy do they take it in the famous finale. It is a simple tale well told as many great stories are from Homer onwards. I have ridden with the bunch a few times now and it gets better each time. Look out for the scene near the end with the dust swirling around a prancing horse and rider through an archway. Beautiful. I recommend you also take a ride with the bunch. You will not be disappointed. Thanks to film they will thankfully be riding for many years yet and will not age as badly as us. In short, a magnificent film. Highly recommended.
on 24 February 2008
"Its time we started thinking beyond our guns, those days are closing fast," muses Pike (William Holden) shortly after the bloodiest shootout in cinema history. The shootout was the result of a botched robbery attempt, and it soon descended into chaotic carnage where Pike and his titular Wild Bunch are forced to shoot their way out of an ambush, killing a good portion of civilians in the crossfire.
This classic movie was released in 1969 in response to the hugely successful gay western `Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'. Butch Cassidy's huge success at the box office essentially green lit the way for Sam Peckinpah's vision of a changing wild west in The Wild Bunch.
It would be a travesty to think about The Wild Bunch in terms of its violence; it is a much better movie than that. It is indeed a violent movie, but it is also a solid drama that is well acted. The music (award winning Jerry Fielding), the script, editing (eg. the opening credits with the scorpions) and acting are second to none.
The story of the movie is ageless and such a similar story/plot can still be seen in contemporary cinema, i.e. in classics such as HEAT where the main characters (bank robbers) are dreaming of abandoning their violent ways and start living up to their oft-spoken ideals, after they achieve their dream of "one last job". This crime plot was never used with better results.
The screenplay by Peckinpah and Walon Green contains several other moments of brilliance. My personal favorites are the exchanges beside a campfire between the leaders of the group (Holden and Borgnine) regarding the state of their affairs. Says Holden, "I'd like to make just one last big score and then back off." "Back off to what?" replies Borgnine, implying that their violent pasts wouldn't allow them to simply settle down peacefully at this point in their lives. I also particularly enjoy Holden's commentary on his hubris-filled nemesis Harrigan: "There's an awful lot of people who just can't admit to being wrong, or to learn from it." "Pride," answers Borgnine simply and shrugs his shoulders. Other central themes in the screenplay include honor, integrity, companionship, and in the end, redemption.
In a masterstroke of casting The Wild Bunch is headed by the great William Holden (Bridge over River Kwai, Network) and supported by other great actors who are not prettyboy Refords or Newmans. In terms of editing The Wild Bunch abandons traditional sound and editing processes in favour of visionary new ones, and thus revolutionising the depiction of onscreen violence (nobody would ride a bike in a Peckinpah movie, and `Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' would not be on the soundtrack).
The Wild Bunch was released in the same year as the second greatest Western ever made: `Once upon a time in the West' (Box office flop in USA). Like Sergio Leone, Peckinpah's mission was to pay homage to the classic Western while at the same time completely eviscerating it.
Unlike Leone, however, Peckinpah's Westerns aren't parodic or surreal. The Wild Bunch is set in a particular place (Mexico as opposed to the mythic nowhere of the Dollars trilogy) at an explicit time 1913, and Peckinpah wants us to empathise with these out-of-time characters despite the fact that they are cold blooded killers. Peckinpah's greatest achievement is that he succeeds.
Despite the violence there is camaraderie between the Wild Bunch members. The movies bleak tone is lightened with scenes of boozing and whoring. There is a lot of humour in the Wild Bunch: children and the scorpions; drunken fooling around with whores in the cellar; Old Sykes laughter over the films final moments.
By the movies end it is obvious that the Bunch cannot think beyond their guns; they try to rescue their friend (Angel).