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the-wild-bunch

THE WILD BUNCH (1969)

Director Sam Peckinpah's darkly brilliant 1969 Western epic tells the story of a gang of aging outlaws, led by Pike Bishop (William Holden), whose disastrous plans for one last job force them into fateful collusion with a corrupt Mexican general (Emilio Fernández) that ultimately leads to bloodshed and death. Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson and Jaime Sánchez co-star in this special edition, featuring never-before-seen outtakes and three exclusive documentaries.

Even though it's one of the most violent... it's one of the best westerns ever thanks to director Sam Peckinpah.

The perfect cast includes: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, with Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, and Ben Johnson.

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Promotional Lines:
"Suddenly a new West has emerged. Suddenly it was sundown for nine men.
Suddenly their day was over. Suddenly the sky was bathed in blood."

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The basic story involves some aging, American outlaws, The Wild Bunch, who find themselves in a new West where their traditional ways of making a living are severely curtailed, and end up going to Mexico, as they are being hunted by a posse led by an ex-member of their gang, Thornton (Robert Ryan), forced to do so, or face doing time in a harsh prison. While in Mexico, The Wild Bunch decide to search for one more big score before retiring. When one of their own is captured by the Mexican Army, they must decide if they'll try to rescue him and likely facing doom in the process.

THE WILD BUNCH is a classic because of top notch direction, dialogue, acting, musical score, editing, and cinematography. Director Peckinpah was working at the height of his powers with this movie, as was everyone else involved with the production, particularly the film editor. Once controversial for its violence, the film, while still having impact, lacks the shock power it had during its initial release.

The acting in THE WILD BUNCH is solid as a rock. William Holden (Pike) and Ernest Borgnine (Butch), deliver great performances as the leaders of the doomed outlaws who've lived past their prime.

Robert Ryan (Thornton) gives a great performance as a man in a personal torturous dilemma, who has to decide if close friendship and loyalty to The Wild Bunch is more important than his own future, which will be doomed if he doesn't help the authorities to bring his friends to justice.

Warren Oates and Ben Johnson, who were well-established character actors in their own right, were perfectly cast as Lyle and Tector Gorch, members of Pike and Butch's gang.

Character actors L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin are very convincing as the slimy, scummy, "cowardly, scheming, body robbing bounty hunters," striving to get the dead bodies of The Wild Bunch for the money offered for each outlaw.

THE WILD BUNCH has numerous memorable scenes. My favorite scene takes place late in themovie. Having returned to retrieve their buddy from the Mexican army, they almost succeed, only to see his throat cut before their eyes. Against incredible odds, the Bunch opens fire. In the "take as many with you before you die" finale the Bunch kill many Mexicans, especially when Holden gets his hands on the enemy gatling gun. The graphic, yet poetic, slow-motion bloodletting makes for one of the most artful, and gory, gun battles ever put on film.

Rated R for violence. Obviously, this film is not for those under 17, or those who don't enjoy this kind of bloody manly man action movie.

If you enjoyed THE WILD BUNCH you may like "PREDATOR, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, SILVERADO, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, and TRUE GRIT.