Sam Peckinpah

"Associated with the rise of graphic screen violence in 1960s' Hollywood, Sam Peckinpah's lyrical films portray disenchantment. His Westerns, in particular, are explorations into moral ambiguities." - Ronald Bergan (Eyewitness Companions: Film, 2006)

Sam Peckinpah

Director / Screenwriter
(1925-1984) Born February 21, Fresno, California, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Western, Revisionist Western, Action, Action Thriller, Thriller, Outlaw (Gunfighter) Film, Psychological Thriller, Drama
Key Collaborators: Lucien Ballard (Cinematographer), Jerry Fielding (Composer), Ted Haworth (Production Designer), L.Q. Jones (Character Actor), John Coquillon (Cinematographer), Warren Oates (Leading Character Actor), Ben Johnson (Leading Character Actor), R.G. Armstrong (Character Actor), Slim Pickens (Character Actor), James Coburn (Leading Actor), David Warner (Leading Actor), Roger Spottiswoode (Editor)

"Sam Peckinpah is widely regarded as a director who made significant innovations in the portrayal of violence in cinema in the 1960s. A volatile alcoholic, Peckinpah was the archetype of the determined film artist trying to exist within a commercial system that labeled him l’enfant terrible. He had a distinguished beginning in television, cocreating one TV western, The Rifleman (1957–1963), and creating another, The Westerner (1960). Then began Peckinpah’s extraordinary but troubled career in the cinema… While his career may have been compromised by his lifestyle, Peckinpah brought to the cinema not just new techniques for the portrayal of violence but also a new sensibility, one far more conscientious than that of other directors who have tried to render violence before and after the Production Code." - Christopher Sharrett (Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film, 2007)
"His preoccupation with the omnipresence of violence and the ambivalence of morality made for complex characters, never sure of their identity or their moral standing. But there was nothing ambiguous about Peckinpah's own view of man as an ignoble beast, though many questioned his insistence that the gratuitous gore in his films was in truth an expression of the director's quest for a better world." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"American director who has made some of the most exciting gun duels and action scenes ever put on screen. Nor was it all blood and thunder: the human spirit was never better celebrated than in some of Peckinpah's early work. Unfortunately, after The Wild Bunch, things did not develop quite as one would have hoped." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Illustrated Guide to Film Directors, 1999)
"The more that emerges on Peckinpah the man, the clearer it is that he was in brazen pursuit of his own fantasies - and expecting others to pay for it. A very dangerous man, because he could be so damn good. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid makes Clint Eastwood look like a carpetbagger." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"The dying of the American West has been the subject of his best efforts (Ride the High Country, 62; The Wild Bunch, 69; The Ballad of Cable Hogue, 70). Lately, however, he's taken to projects containing mindless violence, limp plots, and surface characters (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, 75; The Killer Elite, 75)." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"I want to be able to make westerns like Akira Kurosawa makes westerns." - Sam Peckinpah
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Ride the High Country (1962) , The Wild Bunch (1969) , The Getaway (1972), Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) , Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
Worth a Look
The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), Straw Dogs (1971), The Killer Elite (1975), Cross of Iron (1977)
Approach with Caution
The Deadly Companions (1961), Major Dundee (1965), Junior Bonner (1972), The Osterman Weekend (1983)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Wild Bunch
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