Doing It Right: The Best Criticism on Sam Peckinpah's 'the Wild Bunch'
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This exceptional critical discussion of Sam Peckinpah's innovative and influential tour de force The Wild Bunch brings together the very finest in reviews and criticism of the film since its release in 1969. Often misunderstood and misinterpreted because of its graphic violence, the film initially generated considerable controversy. Peckinpah, who made the film after a four-year forced hiatus in his career (he had been blacklisted), created it as a depiction of the savage behavior possible in the post-World War I era. However, the ensuing controversy was not restricted only to the explicit story and images. Warner Bros.'s withdrawal of Peckinpah's cut of the film drew tremendous sympathy for Peckinpah from American and European film critics alike. This casebook should be read as a supplement to a viewing of the film, which is now available in its uncut form in video. Edited with an introduction by Michael Bliss, the book explores the film's production history, giving an overview of its release problems, highlighting its stylistic characteristics, classic structure, use of the widescreen frame and breakthrough editing techniques, and discussing in detail its underlying moral message and representation of camaraderie and loyalty. In addition to Bliss, essayists include Robert Culp, Paul Schrader, Stephen Farber, Paul Seydor, Jim Kitses, Cordell Strug, John L. Simons, Aljean Harmetz, and Michael Sragow. The book concludes with an appendix and an extensive bibliography. A quarter of a century after its release, The Wild Bunch is considered Peckinpah's masterpiece and one of the most important American films ever produced. Bliss's fine collection of essays will give critics, students,teachers, and film aficionados a more complete understanding and appreciation of Peckinpah's work.