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The Wild Bunch [HD DVD]
The Wild Bunch
HD DVD
Actors: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Genres: Drama
R     2007     2hr 14min

Director Sam Peckinpah's film The Wild Bunch is a powerful tale of hang-dog desperados bound by a code of honor. It is said that The Wild Bunch rates as one of the all-time greatest Westerns, perhaps one of the greatest of...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Creators: Lucien Ballard, Sam Peckinpah, Lou Lombardo, Phil Feldman, Roy N. Sickner, Walon Green
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: HD DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/25/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/1969
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1969
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 14min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
Edition: Director's Cut
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, German, Spanish, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

THE WILD BUNCH.- A Mexican footnote.
Francisco J. Calderon | Mexico City, Mexico | 05/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sam Peckinpah's 'The Wild Bunch' is a masterpiece western. Not the best ever made, but close. So don't think I don't like this movie because I love it. However, since Mexicans are its villains, perhaps you'd be interested to read an opinion from this side of the border.The Mexico of 'The Wild Bunch' looks more like a metaphor than a real place. It is both Heaven and Hell; the theatre where the bunch will find Death but also Redemption. Accordingly, every Mexican depicted in the picture is either a saint or a monster (no middle ground here, except for the Mexican member of the Bunch, who is aptly named "Angel", although a fallen one). This serves the story splendidly, for it's meant to be an epic ballad and not a travelogue, but it does jolt the Mexican viewer because the "good Mexico" is portrayed so idyllic it's unreal, while the "bad Mexico" is very, very accurate; in fact, no American movie has captured the look, sound, feel, texture and carnage of the Mexican Revolution as this one has (even if the grandiose final scene, where the Bunch kills hundreds of heavily armed soldiers all by themselves and none of the four falls down even when riddled by bullets, defies all logic!). Perhaps that's why it was banned in Mexico back when it was released in 1969.Funny, for it was filmed in Mexico as well. The Texas bordertown you see at the begining of the story is actually Parras, Coahuila, and many of its citizens acted as extras in the movie: white ones as "Texans", brown ones as -what else?- Mexicans! Don Raúl Madero, brother of Francisco I. Madero, the man who started the Mexican Revolution, appears ...as a Texan! Even the two German officers are Mexican! So, as you can see, we Mexicans come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and hardly fit these two tiresome "noble peasant"-"greaser bandito" stereotypes American movies seem so comfortable with! I hope some day Hollywood realizes this and "walk the extra mile" to portray us for what we are: a very complex and diverse society. Neither saints, nor monsters, and certainly not mere bowling pins!P.S.: Many great Mexican directors, all personal friends of Peckinpah, appear in the film. Emilio "Indio" Fernández (Mapache) and Chano Urueta (Angel's grandfather) were the best of our cinema's Golden Age. Fernando Wagner (German officer) was also a competent theatre director, and Alfonso Arau (Herrera) is best known for his international hit 'Like Water for Chocolate'. Jorge Russek (Zamorra) was an outstanding photographer for National Geographic, and Sonia Amelio (Teresa) is a world-aclaimmed dancer (she was even awarded with an "Order of Lenin" back in the Soviet Union). And just for the record, the word "Mapache" ("racoon") stands for "coward thief". No Mexican general, no matter how corrupt, would use, I believe, such a nickname! And since Mapache is "a killer working for Huerta", the action takes place in 1913, not 1916 (Huerta was ousted in early 1914)."
Peckinpah's moment in time still packs a punch
Chris K. Wilson | Dallas, TX United States | 03/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There's not much that can be noted about Sam Peckinpah's brilliant 1969 western epic "The Wild Bunch" that has not already been written. It was an unanticipated, influential work where all things came together, but for a moment, the end product a huge, sweeping canvas of intimacy between comrades, violence between combatants, desperate anger amidst changing times. Part Kurosawa, part Siegel, part Fuller, part Ford, Peckinpah combined his inspirations with a healthy dose of 1960s rebellion producing the ultimate work of his generation, and one of the greatest westerns in history. It was Peckinpah's great fortune that the right actors were available for this film - William Holden and Robert Ryan in the twilight of their memorable careers, Ernest Borgnine with just enough youth to be a perfect and loyal presence, Edmond O'Brien chewing up the scenery with tobacco-stained teeth, and of course Peckinpah friends Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones and Warren Oates in salty supporting roles. It was also his great fortune cinematographer Lucien Ballard and composer Jerry Fielding were also on hand to participate in his steadfast vision. Peckinpah also had something to prove at this point in his career, when he was still a hungry director with a vision, before alcoholism, disillusionment and celebrity status took hold. He hid nothing from viewers, and his contradictory heart was laid bare in "The Wild Bunch." The direction and editing during the violent moments of this film - the opening bank robbery and the concluding battle with the Mexican army - are some of the most unforgettable scenes ever put on film. But ironically, and this was usually the case in most Peckinpah films, it is the quiet moments one remembers. Pike (Holden) and Dutch's (Borgnine) melancholy conversation next to a campfire; The Bunch riding out of Angel's village as if in a funeral procession; Deke (Ryan) taking Pike's pistol from it's holster, gently holding it in his hand; and of course Pike standing in the doorway and mouthing two simple words, "Let's go."And of course you have The Walk, in which Holden, Borgnine, Oates and Ben Johnson quietly begin loading their guns, cocking them, arming themselves, smiling at one another, standing shoulder to shoulder. There's not much left for these forgotten outlaws who have lived past their time. Just a code of honor, just their self respect. And so they Walk into the heart of the Mexican army to retrieve their comrade Angel, a prisoner and personal enemy of General Mapache. These surviving members of The Wild Bunch are free to go, but Angel, youthful, love-struck, rebellious, was one of them. They are not going to leave their comrade.After viewing the extraordinary documentary "The Wild Bunch: An Album In Montage" and seeing the rare footage of Peckinpah literally improvising The Walk, walking alongside Holden, Borgnine, Oates and Johnson, inventing by instinct, one realizes how fiercely creative this man was as a director. This film was his moment in time, his vision, his idea, Peckinpah's nightmarish and amazing dream.Peckinpah never really made a film quite like "The Wild Bunch" again. Of course, no director ever really has before or since. His uneven career of 14 films, some good, some not, has been celebrated and honored. Peckinpah the man, adorned in faded jeans and bandanna, certainly perpetuated his myth-like status. But in the end, you will always have "The Wild Bunch," an unforgettable film, raw, gritty, whiskey-soaked, sublime. I cry whenever I watch this film. I cry in awe. All things came together for Peckinpah on "The Wild Bunch," and the moment is everlasting."
A Tone Poem Written in Adrenaline
benjamin kerstein | israel | 01/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are other Peckinpah films I like better. There are other Peckinpah films which are more emotionally affecting. There are other Peckinpah films which are easier to watch. There are other Peckinpah films...But this is the THE Peckinpah film for anyone who wants to know what the fuss is all about. THE WILD BUNCH is Peckinpah's most significant, influential, daring, and ferocious assault on the limits of cinema. This is one of the few movies in cinematic history which fundamentally changed the language of cinema. Violence, death, and carnage would never be treated the same way by the movies after this film. The very idea of action in films can be divided into those made before THE WILD BUNCH and those made after it. Practically every action film you will ever see is little more than a pale attempt at imitating the great original. Watch this movie, and you will see where it all began.

Beyond this, however, there is the film itself; and now that the controversy it engendered has faded into history and its slow-motion carnage has become cinematic banality, the film has begun to emerge in its own right. This is all too the good, because THE WILD BUNCH taken on its own terms is an extraordinary cinematic experience. A tone poem written in adrenaline.

THE WILD BUNCH is, as its creator expressed, essentially a film about bad men in changing times. The changing times, however, brings out the best in these bad men; and a film which begins as a high-spirited bloody romp ends as an epic, apocalyptic tragedy, as its characters choose to go out in an orgy of erotic carnage which changed the cinematic landscape forever.

Peckinpah's skills are magnificently on display in this film. Still youthful as a director, there is not a trace of maturity in this film. It is magnificently adolescent. The camera careens, the cuts flash by, the sound crashes and creaks, the music swells and dies in jagged eruptions.

There is hardly a misstep here. The script, by Peckinpah and Walon Green, is literate, historically knowledgable, and thankfully lacking in the cloying camp which typified the '60s Westerns. The photography by Lucien Ballard is sun-blasted and shadow worn, unafraid of the brutal contrasts so often avoided by today's cinematographers. Jerry Fielding's score is a masterwork, swinging between mariachi ballads and off-kilter rhythms. His music for the Bunch's final walk into immortality overlaps a drunken Spanish ballad with a pulsing snare drum in a completely different rhythm, creating a dissonance which telegraphs the apocalypse to come.

Criminally overlooked by critics obsessed with the film's violence is the quality of the cast. Ernest Borgnine, Jaime Sanchez, and Edmond O'Brien embody their characters so fully that one can hardly imagine them in another role. Emilio Fernandez gives us an indelible caricature of a Mexican general drunk with power and dissapation. Robert Ryan carefully walks the line between his characters honor and his betrayal. And William Holden - in a role rumored to be modeled on Peckinpah himself - gives the performance of his life, culminating in the moment when the sight of a young prostitute, a sleeping baby, and a dying bird finally gives him the strength to live up to his own professed ideals. He and Warren Oates are given what may be the most simple and powerful exchange in modern cinema. "Let's go." "Why not." Four words which never fail to send chills up your spine.

This film is a modern classic. It changed cinema forever. It turned its maker into a legend. It is also a very great film. Put history aside and enjoy it."
Peckinpah's ode to the closing of the American West.....
P. Ferrigno | Melbourne, Victoria Australia | 10/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It would be impossible for film fans to have a conversation about controversial movies throughout the years, and for the epic western, "The Wild Bunch" not to get a solid mention. Since I first saw this film over twenty years ago, I have owned numerous versions on VHS and laser disc, and it is particularly satisfying to finally have the restored directors version, with the accompanying documentary "The Wild Bunch : An album in montage" available on DVD in true widescreen format.Sam Peckinpah's blood and thunder tale of outlaws on the Texas/Mexican border with their own set of unique morals has been such a dynamic influence on many directors and future films since it's release way back in 1969. But what sets "The Wild Bunch" apart from it's many imitators is it's deep, almost mythical storytelling, the complex moral nature of the characters peopling the tale and the gritty passion & energy that Peckinpah infused into the entire production. William Holden and Ernest Borgnine are simply tremendous as Pike & Dutch, the leaders of the Bunch...each man with his own individuality. Ben Johnson & Warren Oates portray the crazy Gorch Brothers, Jaime Sanchez is the arrogant and fiercely partiotic Mexican, Angel...and Edmond O'Brien is the grizzly, old timer Sykes.Additionally, Peckinpah's film features Emilio Fernandez as the bloated, evil dictator Mapache...Albert Dekker as the manipulative and remorseless railroad man, Harrigan....and Robert Ryan putting in another one of his strong performances as the ex-gang member turned reluctant bounty hunter, Deke Thornton. And a Peckinpah movie almost wouldn't be complete without the appearance of LQ Jones and Strother Martin as a pair of filthy, grave robbing bounty hunters out for the reward on the heads of the Wild Bunch.The Wild Bunch pulls no punches in it's tale of desperado's who they themselves are desperately running out of time...as Holden reflects in the film "We've got to start thinking beyond our guns...those days are closing fast". Whilst "The Wild Bunch" is most notorious for it's two bloody shootouts that book end the film's 144 minute running time...there is so much excitement, passion, adventure and personal conflict within the movie that can be found upon each repeated viewing of this stunning work.A film that can be treasured and enjoyed by any true film fan....The Wild Bunch will be continually looked upon as one of the most important contributions to American cinema."