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Peckinpah and McQueen fuse together for tough outlaw road movie.
on 23 March 2013
Based on Jim Thompson's novel, The Getaway finds director Sam Peckinpah, and king of cool actor Steve McQueen, turning to hard grit drama after the sedate splendour of Junior Bonner earlier in the year.
Doc McCoy is released early from prison due to some string pulling from influential gangster Jack Benyon, however it comes under condition that McCoy pulls off a bank robbery for the gruff smarmy Benyon. Thus the seed is sown for double crosses, murder, cross country pursuits, adultery, and carnage Peckinpah style.
Steve McQueen is excellent as McCoy, few actors can claim to look so good when popping off a pump action shotgun, or shooting a pistol complete with arm recoil, and here he has Peckinpah to maximise the damage whilst poetically portraying the slow-mo death sequences. Al Lettieri is vile thug Rudy Butler who is in hot pursuit of McCoy & his wife Carol, a wonderful weasel turn full of cold abusive charm that reeks of menace. Sadly the film is let down a touch by the performance of Ali MacGraw as Carol, it's a terribly wooden performance that threatens to undo all the good things in the film, but luckily McQueen manages to ease her thru the production to minimise the damage.
This of course is the film where both of them fell madly in love and ended up getting married to each other, the chemistry is good, but it's just that MacGraw's delivery of her lines lacks emotion or fortitude. Peckinpah disagreed with the critics of the time, even sending a letter to MacGraw praising her efforts. However when she turned up for the shoot unable to drive a car, he was less than pleased since her character was the getaway driver!
Full of fine sequences and bloody scenarios, it stands up as a real good Sam Peckinpah picture, it's a kind of city set western where the outlaws are actually coming across as heroes. We get pulled into this couple's world and we want so much for them to achieve their goals, so add that feeling to the gritty structure of the story and you get a real enjoyable piece benefiting from great work from director and charismatic leading man alike. 8/10