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4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Peckinpah's Most Ironic Film, 27 April 2014
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This review is from: Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (1974) [DVD] (DVD)
I join the overwhelming majority who find BMTHOAG a fascinating, compelling film that by all rights should have been the disaster that I think most critics and viewers take it to be. I suspects the now 20 of us who offer criticisms are not a truly random lot, but those who, with a couple of dissenters, think BMTHOAG is not Peckinpah's best, but certainly among his most interesting efforts.

Rightly eschewing big name stars (I do not know if that was the director's choice), but relying on solid acting, Peckinpah's tells the truly sad story of a loser among losers. Typically complex, Peckinpah gives us irony upon irony as the device to convey tragedy. The film is noirish, with Warren Oates' character more sinned against than sinning, yet making just enough bad choices to deserve a sad end, still -- one of the many ironies -- death is excessive for Oates' sins.

Unlike many but certainly not all of Peckinpah's films, there is nothing noble nor worthwhile in the violence, pain and death that make up BMTHOAG. Even the terrible protagonists of The Wild Bunch, who deserved their overdue deaths, killed without hypocrisy and died in the name of human individualism over society, misplaced individualism but individualism nonetheless.

Here, pain, death and sad disappointment center around petty greed, petty revenge, petty lust and petty hopes. There is nothing grand nor operatic in the characters. Oates is brilliant playing a lost soul who cannot accept the love of his paramour. But, Oates' lover, although loyal to him. Is a slut, who willingly seduces Kris Kristoffersen, playing her would be rapist who threatenes to but does rape because he lacks the nerve, not, I think, because ultimately he is decent.

Everything about BMTHOAG is ugly, but the story and acting make us watch and even care hoping that somehow Oates will prevail and live to enjoy his $10,000 which even for that time in Mexico was not really a lot of money -- certainly not to justify all the anguish and all the death.

For Peckinpah, never has life been so cheap, nor so interesting.
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