The Wild Bunch

A gang of outlaws goes out in a blaze of violence and glory in Sam Peckinpah’s elegiac film about the dying days of the wild west.

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Introduction

“This is a movie that overwhelms and incites. It throbs with the intensified vision, the paranoia, the cockeyed fatalism and courage of men who live near death.”
Michael Wilmington, The A List: The National Society of Film Critics’ 100 Essential Films, 2002

Harbingers of a modern world, the machine gun and the motor car spell the end of the lawless days of the west in this controversial classic. Beginning with an electrifying, dynamically edited armed robbery sequence, The Wild Bunch traces the riotous last weeks of a gang of aging gunslingers led by Pike (William Holden) as they flee south into Mexico.

Previously a television director with a couple of notable film westerns under his belt, Sam Peckinpah set a new standard for screen violence with his film’s bloodthirsty, slow-motion orgies of action and gunfire. This was a new, more brutal form of western fit for the time of the Vietnam War, but also a mythic lament for an outdated code of masculine honour.

Sheriff Pat Garrett travels south of the border to track down outlaw William Bonney in Peckinpah’s later western Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973).

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