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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This film has many layers.

It is one of the best action movies ever made. It is full of graphic beatings, intimidation, sexual sadism, shootings, fires and car crashes. The Texas prison guards and police look real and mean business. The criminals look and act like real criminals - seedy, ignorant, brutal, and callous. When Beynon (whose name in pronounced "Benyan" throughout the movie) is found dead his brother orders his henchmen not to waste time burying the body, saying "dump it down a dry well, if you can find one." McQueen handles the 12 gauge shotgun and .45 Government Model pistol adroitly as befits an ex-Marine and the shoot-outs are very believable. The wounds look real, the dead people look dead. In reality, two people could not survive such a series of violent encounters unscathed, but it's a movie, so they do. Such is the magic of film that we believe it all happens just as we see it.

It's a portrait of life in a certain time and place, Texas in the early 1970's. The background scenes are very unselfconscious and natural - the accents, the heat, the mesquite, and barbecue, the open and friendly manner of Texans. The extras seem to have been there all along, living their lives; the camera just happens to catch them as they respond to the whirlwind of violence that rolls into town with McQueen and MacGraw.

It's the story of a strong sexual relationship between two very attractive people. It is not surprising that Steve and Ali became sexually involved off the screen and eventually married. The chemistry is obvious and clearly communicated, even though the standards of the time did not require the sexual explicitness that we have become accustomed to these days.

It is an exceptionally well made film. Every frame hold one's interest. In fact, Peckinpah's mastery of the visual aspect of film is such that each PART of each frame holds one's interest.

The plot is intriguing. How is "Doc" going to get out of prison, and how is he going to rob the bank, and who is going to betray whom, and how? And how are he and "Carol" going to finally get to Mexico? Only the ending has a false ring. "Doc" and "Carol" are ruthless criminals in spite of their good looks and classy clothes, but we prefer to think they are misunderstood lovers, and we want true love to win out in the end, so we accept this ending. But as others have pointed out this is not how the book ended, and it is not consistent with the overall tone of the movie.

"The Getaway" is a powerful portrayal of the criminal mind as it acts out its ruthless greed and selfishness. But two amoral people like "Doc" and "Carol" could in the end never have really trusted each other. Thompson's story makes this clear, while Peckinpah's film muddies these waters in order to provide an acceptable "Hollywood" ending.

This review is based on the VHS version.

Update Oct. 20, 2007:

I have just seen the DVD version for the first time. Visually it is a significant improvement over the VHS version. The music is more coherent, less sappy. The critical commentary track provides some very interesting insights into the acting and Peckinpah's film technique. The "virtual" commentary by Peckinpah, MacGraw, and McQueen reveals all three to be fairly inarticulate and lacking in insight - Ali gushes on and on about what a great actor McQueen is, when what she really means is how much in love with him she is.

It's still a great film, even better on DVD.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2000
Format: DVD
Adapted from the Jim Thompson novel of the same name, "The Getaway" script was originally suggested to McQueen by his then wife, Neile as a strong action vehicle to please McQueen's fans looking for Steve to play another moody, rebellious anti-hero.
And a good choice it was....controversial director Sam Peckinpah again produced his unique chemistry with this violent, fast moving film about Texas bank robber Carter "Doc" McCoy (McQueen) paroled from prison with the help of corrupt politician Jack Benyon (Ben Johnson). McCoy and his wife Carol (MacGraw) must then rob a bank for Benyon with the assistance of Rudy Butler & Frank Jackson (Al Lettieri & Bo Hopkins). However, an intended double cross is soon evident and Doc & Carol McCoy are then running for their lives to Mexico with $750,000 in stolen money, with the injured Rudy Butler, and Jack Benyons vicious henchmen in hot pursuit.
And those on screen sparks between McQueen & MacGraw are real, contributed to by their torrid off-screen romance that would eventually see them become husband and wife !
McQueen was at his on-screen toughest since his role in "Bullitt"(1968) and certain scenes (such as where McCoy shoots up a police car with a pump action shotgun in slow motion) were inserted at Steve's request, because he felt that's what his fans wanted to see !!
The quality of this DVD is very good, with only some minor dissapointments in the sound area. If you are a McQueen fan...then "The Getaway" DVD definitely belongs in your collection !
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2005
Format: DVD
This review is for the 2005 Warner Brothers DVD.

The movie opens in a Texas prison where Doc McCoy (Steve McQueen) is doing time for armed robbery. He is denied parole and has to come to terms that the only way to get out early is to bribe a prison board member, Jack Beynon (Ben Johnson) by indulging him with sexual favors with McCoy's wife Carol (Ali McGraw). The dirty deed is done and McCoy is then paroled, but Beynon coerces Doc into doing one major bank job with a collection of other crooks that Beynon has assembled. This sets up a big heist with several twists and turns along the way for an action packed film.

I've seen just about all of McQueen's movies and this is my favorite. First, I like the opening scenes in a real Texas prison. The guards and other prisoners aren't actors - they are the real deal. This rest of the movie is shot in Texas also. I don't recall seeing a single scene that appeared to be made in a Hollywood backlot. The plot of this movie is original. It's more than just a bank robbery and car chases. There are a series of interesting confrontations and slick double-crosses that add a lot of pizzazz to the film. The street-smart character of Doc McCoy played by McQueen is what sets this apart from most action films. His uncanny knack of figuring out what's going on and eluding his advisories is what makes it an extra special movie. Ali McGraw is beautiful, but her acting is suspect at times. Sally Struthers gives a wonderful performance as a ditzy, yet too sympathetic hostage. Slim Pickens also does a stellar job as an older, but very spirited cowboy.

As for the DVD, the widescreen color presentation is near pristine. The stereo audio quality is excellent. There are plenty of commentary features on this DVD.

Movie: A-

DVD Quality: A-
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
"Bad Sam" makes quite a few points in this yarn about a bank robber and his wife who heist a bank and get set up. Sam's theories about women, as discussed in some of his interviews, show up in Sally Struther's character. There's plenty of good old all American violence here, although a lot of it seems directed at things (like police cars) than people at least some of the time.
A bang-up ending, and even a pretty good scene with Slim Pickins, and heck, you've got a modern western.
Much more a guy flick than a kid or date flick.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Knowing that this film was directed by Sam Peckinpah, we expect violence...and plenty of it. It's there to be sure but what is (to me) most intriguing is the relationship between Doc (Steve McQueen) and Carol (Ali MacGraw) McCoy who struggle to extricate themselves from the Mob even as they agree to one last bank robbery. (Off-screen, their love affair ruined her marriage to Robert Evans whose studio was involved with producing this film.) There are numerous nasty moments. Also, remarkably, several humorous and sometimes playful moments as when Doc joyously jumps into a lagoon. Members of the supporting cast are first-rate, notably Ben Johnson (Jack Benyon), Al Lettieri (Rudy), and Sally Struthers (Fran Clinton). Based on Jim Thompson's novel The Getaway, this film really doesn't follow any specific formula. (Peckinpah's films never do.) It evolves logically but casually from one situation to the next. However, there are unexpected developments and complications along the way, notably Rudy's kidnapping of a staid veterinarian and his sexually unfulfilled wife. Credit Walter Hill for an especially literate screenplay as well as Lucien Ballard for his contributions as cinematographer and Quincy Jones as composer of the music score. Director, cast, and crew have created an especially entertaining film, comparable with Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Badlands (1973), and The Gauntlet (1977). Almost (not quite) a great film. One man's opinion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 1999
Format: DVD
Based on the novel by Jim Thompson, THE GETAWAY is a must-see for fans of Peckinpah, as well as those who love a good caper-flick. Doc McCoy (McQueen) is a master thief cooling his heels in prison. His wife (McGraw) springs him by sleeping with the warden, but that's only half the price. McCoy must also pull a bank robbery at the warden's request, and his partners are a moron (Bo Hopkins) and a psycho (Al Letteri). Of course, it's a set-up, and McCoy is not intended to come out alive. Letteri, the warden, and maybe even Doc's own wife are in on the plan to murder Doc and split the money. McCoy and wife take off for the Mexican border, with Letteri hot in pursuit. This is classic Peckinpah. In fact, Peckinpah is the only director I've ever seen who does FULL justice to the gritty, savage novels of Jim Thompson (THE GRIFTERS, KILLER INSIDE ME, and THIS WORLD, THEN FIREWORKS are a few other Thompson adaptations). Walter Hill's script (Hill also wrote and directed the 1996 remake) is a masterpiece! Not a lot of features on the DVD (I'd've LOVED a commentary by Walter Hill on this one!), but the format really brings the beautiful cinematography to life in a way lesser formats can't. A GREAT film! This is one of McQueen's grittiest, toughest roles, and he's the PERFECT McCoy. Cool and deadly as a cobra, yet with genuine emotions and doubts. You'll want to buy a 1911 Model .45 after you see this movie!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2004
Format: DVD
I'd rate this film Peckinpah's second best, next to "Ride the High Country." He places his gifts as a technical master at the service of the plot instead of vice versa and the result is a genuinely intriguing crime drama. Bank-buster McQueen is mortgaged out of prison by his wife's infidelity with a parole board member, who also demands another robbery to clear the debt. The performance that stands out is that of Al Lettieri, McQueen's associate turned enemy. He really shines in a supporting role as a determined sociopath.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2013
Format: DVD
I love this film, and I love Steve McQueen, especially when he is in all-action films like this. In some ways, there isn't a great deal of plot; con gets out of jail, gets the nod to rob a bank, everything goes awry, and they have to skedaddle as best they can with the loot, with all sorts of scary heavies on their trail.

I've read reviews of this film (perhaps on Amazon UK) that sort-of slag the film off, saying it doesn't have any real plot, or that it is too simplistic, or whatever. Perhaps these reviewers are more intellectual than me, but to me this is the perfect all-action, American thriller, complete with heist, love-relationship which doesn't get in the way of the main themes of the movie, shady gangsters looking for the loot, and action all the way. Isn't this what we want of Steve McQueen and American heist movies of the early 1970's? I know I do. In other words, if this movie is the equivalent of a massive cheeseburger and large fries and coke on ice, so what? I love Ingmar Bergman and those arthouse intellectual movies a whole lot, but the Americans (and sometimes the French and Japanese) have had a great knack throughout cinematic history of making great action movies, that do work on more levels if you want them to, that excite and thrill, and keep you entertained for 2 hours or so; this is one of those movies!

If you look at anything, anything certainly that is or has been successful, you can be critical of it, and perhaps also see that it works on many levels. Some books, films, pieces of music have this quality. Is 'The Getaway' critical of America in some way, is it attacking the premise of American capitalism, or the state of America in general? Or is it just a rollicking balls-to-the-wall all-action American movie? You decide, because I can't!

Then you have Al Lettieri, who plays the murderous, scary and downright nasty and psychotic Rudy Butler, who is after our heroes for the money, and no doubt to kill them. Lettieri was an Italian-American actor whose most popular role was that of Virgil Sollozzo 'The Turk' in the Godfather movie. In 'The Getaway' his character was equally as menacing, but more scary and unpredictable. And he was a fine actor, in many heist movies and thrillers in America in the early 70's.

I love this movie, it is a prime piece of Americana, and a wonderful and typical all-action movie of the early 70's. They really don't make 'em like this anymore, and they don't make actors/film stars like Steve McQueen anymore, more's the pity!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2008
Format: DVD
As per Cookieman's in-depth review/analysis above I would add some anecdotes about this film I've come across in various writings. The scene of McQueen punching an hysterical Sally Struthers played so believably because apparently McQueen misjudged his punch and actually knocked out Struthers. Of course, Peckinpah continued shooting. Cookieman talks about the quiet moments before the storms as being poignant; one in particular I would characterize as brilliant: McCoy, fresh from prison, is experiencing sexual dysfunction even though he's partnered with the alluring Carol (Ali MacGraw). He tries to explain to her that being in prison "does something to you," but he is really trying to explain it to himself. He is at once angry and embarrassed, and McQueen plays it with his typically understated intensity. The scene cuts to the next morning with a close up on a pan of scrambled eggs sizzling on the burner as McCoy whistles and prepares breakfast. Brilliant. Peckinpah spares us the requisite love scene and allows us to fill it in in our imaginations, which imprint our psyches indelibly and at the same time creates a human connection between McCoy and the audience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Why would one want to remake a Steve McQueen film? Can't answer that one except to say $$$$$$$! Certainly no one was expecting to usurp his performances in any conceivable aspect. "The Getaway" and "The Thomas Crown Affair" were both remade and added only two things -- more sex and more violence! Neither of those things can improve upon the original stories and mainly the original performances we find with McQueen. Indeed, both films benefit from not being excessive (okay -- maybe the shootout in Getaway) and concentrating on the interpersonal relationships.
It's not so much that a newer version may not be enjoyable to some folks, but then I'd rather see what influenced them to try a remake. As for the general make-up of Getaway, it is well done. Lots of action, suspense in regards to the situations our anti-heros find themselves in, not to mention the finale -- will they get caught in the end? All I can say is that I would hope to find someone like Slim Pickens if I was in a hurry to Getaway!! Buy it -- you'll love it! Especially on Blu-Ray! It's almost like seeing it for the first time...
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