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Overview for Sam Peckinpah
Sam Peckinpah

Sam Peckinpah

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Also Known As: David Samuel Peckinpah,David S. Peckinpah,David Peckinpah,David Samuel Peckinpah Died: December 28, 1984
Born: February 21, 1925 Cause of Death: series of heart attacks
Birth Place: Fresno, California, USA Profession: Director ... screenwriter director actor producer third assistant casting director (gopher) film teacher assistant editor dialogue director director's assistant stagehand prop person
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BIOGRAPHY

er to Mexico with bounty hunters on their heels, leaving behind a trail of bloody mayhem. The unrelenting violence in the film was virtually unseen before in a mainstream Hollywood movie and received a heap of criticism despite the film itself being a hit with audiences. Said violence culminated in a final shootout scene that featured what became Peckinpah staples: gunshot wounds exploding blood in slow motion amidst a hail of bullets and flying bodies; an iconic scene that was virtuosic in its opera of violence and gore. Long considered Peckinpahâ¿¿s masterpiece, "The Wild Bunch" marked a creative and critical highpoint that he unfortunately failed to reach again.

To follow up the "Wild Bunch," Peckinpah made what he often considered to be his favorite film, "The Battle of Cable Hogue" (1970), an uncharacteristically non-violent Western comedy about a man left to die in the desert (Jason Robards), who stumbles across a lifesaving puddle of water and opens a successful shop that provides weary travelers with much needed supplies. He went back to exploring themes of violence with the controversial "Straw Dogs" (1971), which followed a timid American mathematician (Dustin Hoffman) who moves to Cornwall with his British wife (Susan George), only to incur the wrath of the local men which unleashes the Americanâ¿¿s long-dormant violence. The film gained notoriety for its unrelenting violence, particularly a rape scene that led to continued censorship decades after the film was released. Concerned about being pegged as nothing more than a director of violent movies, Peckinpah next helmed "Junior Bonner" (1972), a quiet character study about a former rodeo cowboy (Steve McQueen) who returns home to Arizona, only to find his once solid family in complete disarray. Peckinpah reteamed with McQueen on "The Getaway" (1972), a gritty crime thriller about a criminal husband and wife (McQueen and Ali McGraw), who go on the run after being double-crossed by a scheming politician (Ben Johnson) after a Texas bank heist. Despite some heated drunken arguments with McQueen and the sudden discovery that the star had final cut, which angered him immensely, Peckinpah directed a much-needed hit that went on to become the second highest grossing movie of that year.

Following "The Getaway," Peckinpah entered into the most difficult part of his life and career, which was plagued by increased alcohol consumption and rapidly declining health. He explored the mythology of the Old West with the lyrical, haunting "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973), a minimalist Western that confounded many critics upon release, but which steadily gained stature throughout the years until it was fondly looked upon as one of the best films of the genre. Starring James Coburn as Pat Garrett, Kris Kristofferson as Billy the Kid and Bob Dylan â¿¿ who also composed the score â¿¿ as an enigmatic drifter, the filmâ¿¿s poor initial reception soured Peckinpahâ¿¿s outlook and naturally increased his descent into alcoholism. He followed up with the darkly comic thriller "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" (1974), which starred Warren Oates as a bartender forced by two hit men (Robert Webber and Gig Young) to bring the head of a deceased man who impregnated the daughter of a wealthy Mexican (Emilio Fernandez). A box office failure, the graphically violent thriller was savaged by critics, only to again rise again decades later as an overlooked Peckinpah masterpiece.

From there, Peckinpahâ¿¿s career hit an interminable slide beginning with "The Killer Elite" (1975), a grade-B CIA thriller starring James Caan and Robert Duvall that lacked the depth and inspiration of hits like "The Wild Bunch" and "The Getaway." The film also marked his introduction to cocaine via James Caan, which only served to further complicate his already destructive lifestyle. With "Cross of Iron" (1976), his only war film, Peckinpah managed to create gripping action sequences, but once again his onset drinking contributed to an overall lack of narrative focus that was once proudly displayed in his finest work. With an all-star cast consisting of James Coburn, Maximilian Shell and James Mason, "Cross of Iron" was a last attempt by a fading director to recapture past glory. In desperate need of a hit, the alcoholic and drug-addicted Peckinpah directed Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw in "Convoy" (1978), a road movie that managed to capitalize on the CB radio craze of the time to become one of his highest grossing films despite his reputation lying in tatters over his rampant substance abuse. It was five years until he directed his next and ultimately last film, "The Osterman Weekend" (1983), a convoluted Cold War thriller starring Rutger Hauer that managed to fare decently enough at the box office despite being drubbed by critics. Two months before he died, Peckinpah embarked on his final directing efforts, helming the music videos for Julian Lennonâ¿¿s "Valotte" (1984) and "Too Late for Goodbyes" (1984). An increasingly frail Peckinpah finally succumbed to his destructive lifestyle on Dec. 28, 1984 and died from heart failure. He was 59, and left behind a legacy that at once was both extraordinary and deeply disappointing, but served as an influence for a later generation of filmmakers that included Michael Mann, Walter Hill and Quentin Tarantino. "The Deadly Companions" (1961), a Western about a gunslinger (Brian Keith) who shoots the son of a dance hall hostess (Maureen Oâ¿¿Hara) and accompanies her on a harrowing journey to bury him. With only his second film, the revisionist Western "Ride the High Country" (1962), Peckinpah reached a level of creative greatness that prompted some to call him a worthy successor to John Ford. The tale told of two ex-lawman and friends â¿¿ one scrupulous but on the verge of poverty (Joel McCrea), the other of lesser morals (Randolph Scott) â¿¿ who are reduced to guarding a shipment of gold, only to fall into conflict when the latter plans to steal it with a younger hired gun (Ronald Starr). Though not an immediate success upon release, "Ride the High Country" grew in stature over the years and earned its places as one of Peckinpahâ¿¿s finest films.

Peckinpah ran into his first bit of trouble on the set of his third film, "Major Dundee" (1965), which starred Charlton Heston as an obsessed army officer who leads a motley crew of soldiers into Indian territory on a perilous journey of revenge. Most of the trouble derived from the director himself, who drank heavily throughout the shoot and often showed up to set under the influence. Peckinpah was abusive toward his staff and even angered the typically even-keeled Heston, who allegedly threatened to drive the director through with his cavalry sword if he failed to stop. He also fired numerous members of the crew, often for frivolous infractions, while his wayward behavior drove the production 15 days over schedule. Eventually, the studio took control of the editing process and forced the director out. Upon its release, "Major Dundee" was a critical and box office failure, and tarnished Peckinpahâ¿¿s reputation. He sought to revive his standing in Hollywood with "Noon Wine" (1966), a little known adaptation of Katherine Anne Porterâ¿¿s novel that he wrote for the small screen. Starring Jason Robards and Olivia de Havilland, the one-hour film was presented on the umbrella series "ABC Stage 67" (1966-67) and displayed Peckinpahâ¿¿s previously untapped talent with more intimate dramatic material.

Because of the critical and artistic success of "Noon Wine," Peckinpah was able to launch a comeback that saw him direct one of the best Westerns ever made and garner widespread international acclaim. With "The Wild Bunch" (1969), he explored the idea of aging outlaws unable to adapt to a rapidly encroaching modern world. Starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Robert Ryan, "The Wild Bunch" followed the outlaw gang as they make one last score and flee across to the bord

Contributions

m.shamamian ( 2010-09-23 )

Source: not available

"The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones" was not "an original feature script" by Sam Peckinpah. It was a novel by Charles Neider. (Several writers worked on this adaptation, perhaps including the great Jim Thompson, who had worked for Stanley Kubrick, before Kubrick left during production to direct "Spartacus.")

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