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"If They Move . . . Kill 'Em!": The Life and Times of Sam Peckinpah Kindle Edition
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Fascinating . . . It sometimes reads like a novel, at other times like a diary, but always makes the reader a participant in the director’s personal and professional triumphs and failures. . . . [This] latest book on Sam Peckinpah . . . may also be the best.” W.J. Howell, Jr., Film Quarterly
Incisive . . . A savvy, enjoyable book that will help facilitate the rediscovery of Sam Peckinpah.” Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
[A] distinguished critical biography . . . A superb study of a major influential filmmaker.” Jere Real, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Written in no-nonsense prose as lean as the laconic-cowpoke director himself, this fat bio reconstructs the trailblazing architect of The Wild Bunch.” William O. Goggin, San Francisco Weekly
A biography that leaves you wishing it would never end.” Mimi MacFarland, The Bloomsbury Review
Sam Peckinpah’s raw, primal approach to human behavior is so extraordinary that one feels, as seeing a film of his, taken up into a vital and significant kind of life. Anyone who reads this book will participate in that heightening, and we must thank Mr. Weddle for his dedication to making this possible.” James Dickey, author of Deliverance and To the White Sea
David Weddle’s biography of Sam Peckinpah is entertaining and informative. It provides very perceptive insights into the mind and the works of one of America’s most powerful and controversial directors. It explores the connections between his personal and his artistic lives. To those familiar with Peckinpah’s work, this book helps to clarify the reality behind many myths that have always surrounded him. It will also be a great introduction to Sam Peckinpah for younger generations of film students.” Martin Scorsese
The gnarly genius of Sam Peckinpahfor moviemaking and for self-destructioninforms this supercharged, snorts-and-all biography. David Weddle stares the artist’s demons in the eye and also gives the most complete account of Peckinpah’s unsentimental filmmaking education. The creation of The Wild Bunch emerges as one of the great sagas of movie history. Weddle portrays Peckinpah with hard-hitting empathy: the shambles of his life make the brilliance of his movies more inspiring. Peckinpah becomes the charismatic, monstrous, funny, and heartbreaking figure at the center of a story that is a dizzying mixture of The Stunt Man, All the Pretty Horses, and Under the Volcano.” Michael Sragow, film critic for The New Yorker and The Atlantic
About the Author
If They Move . . . Kill Em! is the first major biography of David Samuel Peckinpah. Written by the film critic and historian David Weddle, this fascinating account does critical justice to an important body of cinema as it spins the tale of Peckinpah’s dramatic, overcharged life and the turbulent times through which he moved.
Sam Peckinpah was born into a clan of lumberjacks, cattle ranchers, and frontier lawyers. After a hitch with the Marines, he made his way to Hollywood, where he worked on a string of low-budget features. In 1955 he began writing scripts for Gunsmoke; in less than a year he was one of the hottest writers in television, with two classic series, The Rifleman and The Westerner, to his credit. From there he went on to direct a phenomenal series of features, including Ride the High Country, Straw Dogs, The Getaway, Pat Garrett and the Billy the Kid, and The Wild Bunch.
Peckinpah was both a hopeless romantic and a grim nihilist, a filmmaker who defined his era as much as he was shaped by it. Rising to prominence in the social and political upheaval of the late sixties and early seventies, Peckinpah and his generation of directorsStanley Kubrick, Arthur Penn, Robert Altmanbroke with convention and turned the traditional genres of Western, science fiction, war, and detective movies inside out. No other era in Hollywood has matched it for sheer energy, audacity, and originality, no one cut a wider path through that time than Sam Peckinpah.
- Publication Date : March 29, 2016
- File Size : 1071 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 561 pages
- Publisher : Grove Press (March 29, 2016)
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Language: : English
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- ASIN : B01EBEDAL6
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #163,199 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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David Weddle's 1994 biography charts Peckinpah's journey from television journeyman to celebrated auteur to washed-up coked-out has-been with obvious humanity and a clear-eyed appreciation for what Peckinpah brought to the cinematic table. Beginning with his 1969 milestone "The Wild Bunch", Peckinpah revolutionized the language of film with slow-motion, cross-cutting, and rapidfire editing, usually in sequences with much violence. "Blood ballets", they were called, and "Bloody Sam" was the guy who made them.
"With his cameras Peckinpah sought to penetrate the primitive heart of the violence, to capture both its seductiveness and its horror," Weddle writes.
But this hard-earned success of Peckinpah's was short-lived. He made a number of brilliant films in the years right after "The Wild Bunch"; arguing which, if any, are actually better than "Bunch" is the Peckinpah fan-club handshake. But Weddle notes that Peckinpah's many personal demons, fueled by alcohol and, later, cocaine, not to mention a circuitous trail of women, pushed him to a point where the films became ill-focused, "plagued by gaps in continuity, sudden lurches in tone, and scenes that were sloppily bad." The man who worked out "Wild Bunch's" amazing finale on the set devolved into a fuzzy-headed drunk.
Weddle may be better known to you, as he was to me coming in, as one of three Peckinpah authorities, known as the "Peckinpah Posse", who offer commentaries on select DVDs of Peckinpah movies. I always found Weddle to be the closest in line with my own thoughts of Peckinpah, appreciative but not worshipful of the man's output.
The book is not as steady in its POV. He notes the many flaws in "Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid", a movie I can't stand, but then spends an entire chapter on it, quoting admirers of the film like Martin Scorsese to the point he sounds like an admirer himself. "Junior Bonner", a much better film to me, one of the best Peckinpah did, gets only desultory mention.
Behind the scenes, Weddle presents piercing insights, particularly regarding Peckinpah's escalating irrationality. On "Straw Dogs", he befriended an actor playing the most villainous character and dragged him out at 3:30 in the morning of a shooting day to sit by the sea with a bottle of tequila and sing "Butterfly Mornings," a folksy love duet from his previous film "The Ballad Of Cable Hogue." There's something twistedly brilliant in that, even if Peckinpah contracted pneumonia from the episode and nearly lost the film.
By 1976, making his war film "Cross Of Iron", Peckinpah was walking through an airport swigging slivovitz with an enabling lackey, one of several "pilot fish" as Weddle calls them who latched on to Peckinpah for the ride. "Cross Of Iron" was his last decent film by most accounts, but a far cry from "Straw Dogs" and other early 1970s films.
As other reviewers note, Weddle doesn't get into Peckinpah's cinematic influences, an oversight. He does make an interesting case for Peckinpah's pathfinding television work, and champions the classic pre-"Bunch" film "Ride The High Country", all in a way that points up how Peckinpah developed the framework for his revolution to come.
Weddle doesn't make Peckinpah come alive for me as a personality, perhaps because he burned so bright that those interviewed seem somewhat singed by their closeness. But he makes me want to watch more Peckinpah. That's probably what Weddle was aiming for.
David Weddle shows why there was not. Peckinpah burnt about every bridge he could, every town he encountered, every relationship he was in. This is unflinching and makes for fascinating if sad reading. Substances were abused and he destroyed himself. He could have been a potent action/drama director for decades more with his talent but he could not stand success. Enemies had to be found and destroyed even if it meant destroying himself in the meantime. The man is hard to like but yet there was honesty there among the betrayals and at least he lived burning like a meteor across the sky knowing both victory and defeat.
The memory of what the man actually was will wither but the art will remain and it is art. Scenes and characters from his movies never to be forgotten: The Wild Bunch marching to their destiny at Bloody Porch, Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott ending their careers in legendary fashion, Major Dundee mad in Mexico, Cable Hogue finding water were there wasn't any and the love of an outcast woman, Dustin Hoffman a killing machine, Pat Garrett killing himself when he kills Billy the Kid, Slim Pickens dying by a river, Warren Oates conversing with a severed head in Mexico, and the insanity of the Eastern Front in World War II as James Coburn stalks among the corpses.
It was a legacy worth remembering. David Weddle did it proud.
If we could see a 'Director's Cut' of this biography!
What is here is choice and one should never forget.
Top reviews from other countries
Especially for fans of Peckinpah.