Glendale Train / New Riders of the Purple Sage
The Wild Bunch / 1969
“I think the public has learned that, as least somebody has learned that in the passing years that Bloody Sam was merely a change over dishonesty to at least looking at the fact that people do bleed and are hurt. But I am not responsible for the chainsaw – whatever it’s name is – and the other trash that has been put forth. I deal in violence as a term – a very sad term – a very sad poetry.” Sam Peckinpah, BBC Interview, 1976.
“… killing a man isn’t clean and quick and simple. It’s bloody and awful. And maybe if enough people come to realize that shooting somebody isn’t just fun and games, maybe we’ll get somewhere.” Sam Peckinpah
It amazes me that a lot of people still don’t get that Sam Peckinpah’s wasn’t trying to exploit violence / human bloodlust, he was trying to expose it’s revolting reality. I believe Peckinpah’s many years of Directing TV Westerns (Gunsmoke, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Rifleman, Broken Arrow, Klondike, Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater, Trackdown, The Rifleman, The Westerner …) and the superficial way they portrayed violence and Sugar coated killing was a driving force behind his desire to expose violence for what it really is: a traumatic, horrifying event with emotional or moral impact.
Peckinpah’s later sadly realized that many people were not revolted by the blood and violence in his movies. They loved it. And still do.
Further, his movies might well have contributed to obvious ‘desensitization’ toward bloodshed in films.
All this, ironically proved one of his Sam’s pet themes: mankind’s inability to resolve conflicts peacefully.
“There is a great streak of violence in every human being. If it is not channeled and understood, it will break out in war or in madness.” – Sam Peckinpah
Yes, people do love this stuff. Look at any movie Bill: at least half the movies are Action Movies – most with sizable servings of killing and bloodshed.
The question then is: Why do we love this stuff?
“Today we have ‘Action Films’ – not films with ‘Action’. Sam was probably accused of too much violence. He was a man of non-violence. He wanted to show violence the way it was in order to achieve non-violence. To make it so repulsive that nobody wanted to see it. Today they glamorize violence. Unfortunately.”
- James Coburn
Sam Peckinpah’s Western trail: Some bloody good Westerns: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) / The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) / The Wild Bunch (1969) / Major Dundee (1965) / The Glory Guys (1965) / Ride the High Country (1962) / The Deadly Companions (1962).
The Wild Bunch / Images / Opening Credits
Then … all hell broke loose …