Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mad Peck, Bloody Sam

Director Sam Peckinpah died 25 years ago on December 28th, at the age of 59. His too-soon departure was due in no small part to a life of drug and alcohol abuse, and his last years were typified by illness. Peckinpah was a man who lived hard and, at his finest, that was evident on the screen. Not all of his films are great, but his great ones are uncompromisingly brilliant. Graphic violence, rapid edits, and gorgeous slow motion made the pictures of Bloody Sam their nihilist best.

Even Peckinpah's The Getaway, which is often dismissed as a picture done for a paycheck, looks and feels cutting edge by today's standard almost forty years after it was made. If you haven't seen it yet, treat yourself. Catch Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw at their best and find out where Steven Soderbergh got all his moves. Paul Schrader has said that Peckinpah "chiseled the gravestone" of the Western, but what a beautiful stone it was.

"The end of a picture is always the end of a life."

Check out Monty Python's gory homage/spoof to the man, "Salad Days." How's that for a eulogy?

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