Monday, November 14, 2011
BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1974)
Director Sam Peckinpah was responsible for what, in my opinion, was the greatest American western ever made, THE WILD BUNCH. With that film he helped usher in a new type of violent cinema that would help propel the 70's towards the ground-breaking decade it became. It pushed the envelope and it also commented on the value of honor and staying true to your word. It also blurred the line between hero and villain. There were really only subtle degrees of morals and/or circumstances separating both groups. But that was in 1969 when the envelope needed to be pushed forward, by the time this movie came around in '74 it probably all didn't seem quite as fresh. When released GARCIA was trashed by critics and was a box office flop. That's a shame because while there are a lot of similarities between this and THE WILD BUNCH I think it's a strong film on it's own. The Mexican/western setting, star Warren Oates and the slow-mo shoot-outs are a few of the obvious similarities. Here Oates portrays someone who, as the film goes on, slips deeper into madness as things unravel. There's also the Mexican General from BUNCH as a similar Mexican big-shot. He always makes such a great sleazy looking character and Peckinpah used him often for exactly that. There's also no real hero here just a portrayal of a man who ends up with nothing left to lose so he becomes a desperate creature. Kris Kristofferson also shows up as a rapist biker which is something you don't see every day and some of the scenes with Oates talking to the titular head in a bag are pretty humorous. While this never reaches the high points of its predecessor it still works for me as a classic piece of cinema made by a true master.