Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Movie Review: The Wild Bunch (1969)
I have seen this film at least six times. I say "at least" because it is probably more, although some viewings were partial, just popping in a DVD and watching a few choice scenes. In film school I know I saw the movie twice for different classes, and I've seen it on the big screen twice, both times at the Coolidge Corner Theater, in my opinion Boston's best independent / art house theater. I watched the Director's Cut of the Wild Bunch last night at the Coolidge with my old film school comrade in arms, John Mayhem. John is something of a Peckinpah scholar (he wrote the essay on Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia for Hatchet Force Journal #1), and we both waxed nostalgic before, during, and after the film. it was great to sit and watch such a classic on the big screen, a cold beer in hand (yes, the Coolidge sells beer and wine to patrons, something I heartily approve of). As an aside, if you ever get a chance to see a great classic film on the big screen for the first time, don't pass it up. Even the best 60" flatscreens with home surround sound pale in comparison to seeing a classic like this in the venue for which it was created.
If you haven't seen The Wild Bunch, do yourself a favor and indulge your inner outlaw for a couple of hours (even if it is on a "small" screen...). I dare say that it is a thinking man's western, a film that works on multiple levels. Not only are the heroes of the film firmly in their twilight years, but the film is set in 1913, as horses and sixguns are being replaced by automobiles and belt-fed machine guns. As this is a "post modern pulp" blog, I'll point out that I feel The Wild Bunch fits firmly in the post modern mindset. I think it is no coincidence that the movie was made at the height of the Vietnam War, when most people were beginning to realize that hey, we're probably not going to win this one. The world had become a much different place, and films like The Wild Bunch were as much an expression of that change as Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan novels. As the final line of the film states, uttered by the oldest of the 'bunch', "It ain't like it used to be, but it'll do."