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The Wild Bunch
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Wild Bunch, The: Director's Cut (DVD) (Rpkg)
The master of the American western, Sam Peckinpah, directs a stellar cast in this movie that breathed new life into the genre and broke ground in the realistic portrayal of screen violence. This explosive adventure drama is about the last of the legendary lawless breed who lived to kill -- and killed to live. Receiving two Academy Award nominations, this bitter, brutal story of magnificent losers in a dying West remains one of the screen's all-time classics. Starring Oscar-winner William Holden ("Network"), Oscar and Golden Globe-winner Ernest Borgnine ("Marty"), Oscar-nominee Robert Ryan ("Crossfire"), and Oscar and Golden Globe-winner Edmond O'Brien ("Seven Days in May"). Recently selected by the prestigious American Film Institute as one of the 100 greatest American Films of all time. Inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.]]>
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Top Customer Reviews
There are films you have to make excuses for over time. Films that--- even if good or excellent overall--- seem sentimental or over-stylized or just plain quaint (even and perhaps especially true of that last Golden Age of the '60s/70s). The Wild Bunch isn't one of them. Because it was made by a forward-thinking and philosophical artist, about a very specific period, who intended to relate it to the turmoil and turbulence of his own, it feels timeless in a way that few movies do. The marriage of acting, directing, dialogue, cinematography, mind-boggling editing, and especially tone is as close to perfect as any film I can think of; even the cut-loose scenes that everyone refers to (bookending the movie) are perfectly choreographed and controlled, with not an excessive or exploitative moment to be found (amazing, in a film about utterly excessive characters, made at the height of Sixties excess).
Please see this movie if you haven't. Like all great art, it's about the human condition (and views it as unflinchingly and honestly as any movie ever made). Seeing it again, now that I'm over the hill (a fortysomething), I suddenly feel like, underneath all the testosterone-frustrated mayhem and bitterness, I am seeing an oddly hopeful film, not sentimental or 'liberal' or totally forgiving but not totally damning, either. Like films as seemingly disparate as Do the Right Thing, Raging Bull, Bonnie and Clyde or M*A*S*H (all of which have violence at the core) Wild Bunch is in fact a plea for understanding. At the end, the main characters--- who are violent, drunken, misogynistic, hypocritical, foolish--- do indeed achieve a sort of redemption, by finally having the guts to live up to the brother-solidarity code they've been paying lip service to all those years.
Remember, a story like this is for "even the worst of us. Perhaps the worst most of all".
The cast is what makes this a keeper for me. William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates and Edmond O'Brien are incredibly talented actors and they put in some of their best work here. Robert Ryan and Ben Johnson are fine as well. The locations are impressive and some of the action set pieces are pretty inspiring; the bridge crossing sequence comes to mind. ;-) Personally, I think it could stand to have a good 30mins trimmed and not lose any of its impact. Of course there are those who say the same thing about "The Good The Bad & The Ugly" or "Once Upon A Time In The West" too, so I suppose it's all subjective.
The Blu-ray looks really nice. Sharp, crisp colors and a gritty film grain that, thankfully, hasn't been washed out by studio technicians tampering with DNR (digital noise reduction) to try and clean things up. The sound is clean & clear. There are several nice bonus gimmes included with the film, too. Bottom line: if you're unsure or haven't seen this film before you may want to rent it first, then decide if you want to add it to your home video collection. I know I won't watch it as often as several other westerns I own, but this one is still a keeper for its cultural & cinematic significance alone, as well as for being a pretty good film. 4 stars.