The Getaway


2h 2m 1972
The Getaway

Brief Synopsis

When a bank robbery goes bad, an ex-con and his wife take it on the lam.

Film Details

Genre
Action
Crime
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 1972
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 19 Dec 1972
Production Company
David Foster Productions; First Artists Production Company, Ltd.; Solar Productions, Inc.; Tatiana Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
United States
Location
El Paso, Texas, United States; Huntsville, Texas, United States; San Antonio, Texas, United States; San Marcos, Texas, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Getaway by Jim Thompson (New York, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Four years into a ten-year prison term in Texas, convicted armed robber Carter "Doc" McCoy applies for parole and, despite good behavior, is rejected. When Doc's wife, Carol, next visits, he directs her to advise corrupt but influential parole board member Jack Beynon that he is "for sale." Soon, in an unusual reversal, Doc's parole request is granted. After a nervous but highly anticipated reunion with Carol, Doc meets Beynon who explains that in exchange for his freedom he must rob a small local bank of over half a million dollars with the assistance of Beynon's chosen henchmen, Rudy Butler and Frank Jackson. After staking out the bank for several days to determine its routines and security measures, Doc goes over detailed plans for the robbery with Butler and Jackson, who are dismissive of Doc's complex arrangements. On the day of the heist, while Butler and Jackson arrive near the bank as planned, Carol covers for Doc, allowing him to sneak into an underground tunnel where he cuts the power to the bank and the surrounding block. While Carol drives away to set up diversionary bombs, Doc meets the others inside the bank. All goes well until the bank guard attempts to reach for his gun and a panicky Jackson shoots him. Butler and Jackson make their escape and Carol returns for Doc. Angered by Jackson's action, Butler kills him and tosses his body at a corner not far from the bank, then drives on to meet Doc and Carol. At the designated meeting place, Butler admits to killing Jackson and when he attempts to shoot Carol and Doc, Doc shoots him several times. Doc and Carol switch cars and, taking the money, head off to meet Beynon, unaware that the wounded Butler, who was wearing a bullet proof vest, is following. As they near the place they are to meet Beynon, Carol grows increasingly anxious, so Doc leaves her in the car while he takes the money to Beynon, who is displeased with the murders. When Doc asks why there is only half a million dollars from the robbery, when radio broadcasts noted that over $750,000 was stolen, Beynon admits that his brother, who sits on the bank board, had taken two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to cover business debts and the robbery was intended as a cover for the earlier theft. Beynon then mocks Doc for not understanding that Carol had sex with Beynon to ensure Doc's release. Carol, who has quietly entered the room behind Doc, stuns her husband by abruptly shooting and killing Beynon from over Doc's shoulder. Meanwhile, a dazed Butler stops at an isolated veterinary hospital where he forces Dr. Harold Clinton to tend to his wounds. That evening, Butler demands that Clinton and his pliant wife Fran drive him in pursuit of the McCoys. After fleeing Beynon's, Doc stops the car and furiously berates Carol for not telling him the truth, but she reminds him that he sent her to Beynon. Although still angered, Doc continues with the getaway plan to reach El Paso where he has arranged visas to enter Mexico. When Beynon's brother is unable to contact him, he and several henchman investigate and, discovering the dead body, set out to El Paso as well. At a train station, Carol takes the money to a locker where a young man assists her with the heavy bag. Afterward, when Carol meets with Doc and takes him to the locker, they find it is empty and Doc realizes the helpful man has stolen it. Spotting the man boarding the train to El Paso, Doc chases him on board while Carol waits uncertainly on the platform. When the thief discovers the bag contains money, he gleefully takes his seat with it, but moments later Doc arrives and knocks him unconscious, then gets off the train at the next stop with the bag. Some time later, Doc returns to the train station where Carol is waiting. Despite Carol's genuine happiness at seeing him, Doc coldly suggests they split the money and go their separate ways. Hurt and angered, Carol declares she does not want to break up with Doc and the couple return to their car in sullen silence. That night on the road, Butler and the Clintons stop at a motel where Butler takes perverse delight in tying Clinton up and forcing him to watch while he and Fran enthusiastically have sex. The next day, as Doc and Carol continue their journey, Carol tells her brooding husband that he must trust someone someday or he will have nothing. Peeved when the car radio breaks down, Doc insists they stop at the next town, but at the electronics store, the salesman recognizes Doc from the numerous televised police announcements and telephones the police. Doc hurries to a sporting goods store where he demands a double-barrel shotgun and ammunition and when the police arrive, he forces them to lie in the street while he shoots up their car. Doc and Carol then race out of town, but upon seeing a bus heading toward town, the couple speedily abandon the car, then innocuously catch the bus as the police and sheriff race past it. In the next town, Carol buys a used car and the couple return to the road. That evening at a drive-in, however, a carhop waitress recognizes Doc and notifies the authorities. When the police arrive, there is a shootout as Carol frantically tries to drive the couple out of the parking lot. Forced to abandon the car in town, Doc and Carol dart into an alley and take refuge in a full garbage bin, still carrying the money bag and shotgun. Although they evade the police, the McCoys cannot avoid a trash truck that deposits them and the garbage into the back of the truck. When Doc realizes the truck compacts the garbage, he and Carol hastily place numerous heavy objects around themselves as protection. At dawn, the truck dumps its full load of trash, including Doc and Carol, into a garbage landfill. After extricating themselves, the money bag and shotgun, Doc struggles to tell Carol he has realized they should stay together, but, still resentful over Doc's earlier anger, Carol remains doubtful. Doc vows never to mention Beynon again and Carol agrees they should continue together. The next morning, Butler is nonplussed to discover that the distraught and humiliated Clinton has committed suicide. He and Fran then continue to the El Paso hotel where Beynon had arranged travel documents with manager Laughlin. After Butler demands Laughlin inform him when Doc and Carol arrive, Laughlin telephones Beynon's brother who is waiting nearby. Later, when a now cleaned up Doc and Carol arrive, Laughlin dutifully informs Butler. Using the hapless Fran to pose as a room service attendant, Butler tries to get into the McCoys' room, but Doc sneaks up behind them and knocks them both out. When Doc and Carol attempt to slip out of the hotel, they run into Beynon's brother and his henchman and a wild shootout ensues in which Doc kills the gang with the shotgun. As Doc and Carol flee out of a back fire escape, a revived Butler attempts to follow, but Doc shoots him too. Flagging down an aging cowboy in a pick-up, Doc and Carol ask him to drive them across the border. Discovering the couple is married, the old man agrees. In Mexico, the old man cheerfully accepts thirty thousand dollars for the truck and Doc and Carol drive away together.

Videos

Movie Clip

Getaway, The (1972) - He Didn't Make It In the third and fourth shots, the orange VW was driven by James Garner, who was visiting a friend on the shooting location in San Marcos, Texas, a stunt for which director Sam Peckinpah paid Garner $1, as Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw flee the bank heist, dodging their own diversionary explosions, Al Lettieri their fickle partner, in The Getaway, 1972.
Getaway, The (1972) - There Ain't No Morals SPOILER because this comes after the big shootout near the end, but Slim Pickens appears as a bystander, with a truck, as Doc and Carol (Steve McQueen, Alil MacGraw) are headed for sure now to Mexico, in Sam Peckinpah’s 1972 hit The Getaway.
Getaway, The (1972) - Rudy Got Ambitious After their violent Texas bank job, McCoy (Steve McQueen) and wife Carol (Ali MacGraw) visit prison official Benyon (Ben Johnson), who got him released after she agreed to have sex with him, to split the loot, Sam Peckinpah directing, with surprises from the original Jim Thompson novel, in The Getaway, 1972.
Getaway, The (1972) - You Boys Just Do Your Job Not nearly so built-up as it is now, at the River Walk in San Antonio, Steve McQueen as McCoy, visits crooked parole official Benyon (Ben Johnson), who just got him sprung and, we learn, was planning a job all along, Al Lettieri and Bo Hopkins on the crew, in Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway, 1972.
Getaway, The (1972) - Tell Him I'm For Sale Director Sam Peckinpah shooting at the Huntsville State Prison in Texas, his star Steve McQueen as McCoy, who’s just been denied parole, at work with real inmates, visited by his wife Carol (Ali MacGraw), whom he sends to see parole board member Benyon (Ben Johnson), early in The Getaway, 1972.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Action
Crime
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 1972
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 19 Dec 1972
Production Company
David Foster Productions; First Artists Production Company, Ltd.; Solar Productions, Inc.; Tatiana Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
United States
Location
El Paso, Texas, United States; Huntsville, Texas, United States; San Antonio, Texas, United States; San Marcos, Texas, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Getaway by Jim Thompson (New York, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Getaway (Deluxe Edition) - The Getaway (Special Edition) on DVD


There are three important ways to look at 1972's The Getaway: as a Steve McQueen movie, a Sam Peckinpah movie or a Jim Thompson movie. The new The Getaway Deluxe Edition DVD does a good job at the first, as it partially owes its existence to Warner Home Video's recent Steve McQueen boxed set. It covers director Peckinpah's role more extensively, rounding up the trio of Peckinpah biographers from MGM's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia disc for another affable audio commentary. Alas, it only incidentally touches upon the movie in relation to Thompson, whose novel provided the source material (other Thompson adaptations over the years have included The Grifters, The Killer Inside Me and After Dark, My Sweet). So while this is a very good DVD of a very good action-thriller, I wouldn't go so far as to call it definitive.

The Getaway is relatively conventional territory for both Peckinpah and Thompson. The story of veteran bank robber Doc McCoy (McQueen) and wife Carol (Ali McGraw) eluding a corrupt backer (Ben Johnson) and a vengeful cohort (Al Lettieri) after a Texas heist, this bullet-riddled road movie is faithful to most of Thompson's novel, despite betraying the overall irony of Thompson's title (his tale is a steady descent into hell in which Doc and Carol do not get the escape hatch afforded their movie counterparts). Many of the best sequences come right out of the novel, smartly rendered by Peckinpah, while the book's most extreme endurance test for the couple (three days and nights spent in a sweltering dung heap), has been wisely transferred to a death-defying trip in the hold of a garbage truck with a hydraulic compactor the driver is very fond of using.

We usually think of excess when we think of Peckinpah, most readily from the trademark slow-motion violence of 1969's The Wild Bunch. We don't often think of his nuts-and-bolts filmmaking. Yet despite the gunplay and occasional slow-mo in The Getaway, the movie is ample evidence that he could really tell a story in more traditional ways, too. The crisp opening detailing the grinding monotony of Doc McCoy's prison stint, the cross-cutting among all the elements of the heist and a tense sequence in which McQueen scours a train for a con man who bamboozled Carol out of their bag of ill-gotten money are all textbook examples of visual storytelling. Peckinpah and McQueen had just come off of the flop Junior Bonner together (another fine collaboration), while McQueen laid a more high-profile egg before that with Le Mans, so the emphasis here was to make a crowd-pleaser, and they definitely succeeded.

Balancing the crime story is the romance between Doc and Carol. Their relationship has to survive the fact that she slept with a member of the parole board (Johnson) in order to get Doc out of jail, as well as overcome the stress of being outlaws on the run. This part of the story doesn't date as well as the brisk action. McGraw's performance has always been flat, but her star power gave it a big boost when the movie was new (this was her first film after the pop culture phenomenon that was Love Story). She's beautiful, and we don't doubt Doc's affection for Carol for a moment (indeed, McQueen and McGraw each divorced their spouses to be married after falling in love during the shoot). But, 30+ years later, McGraw comes off as awfully dainty for the rough-and-tumble role. Typically for a Peckinpah movie, the stars bump into all sorts of colorful supporting players during the story, many, like Johnson, familiar faces in the director's movies. These include Dub Taylor, Slim Pickens, Bo Hopkins and Richard Bright.

In addition to the audio commentary with the Peckinpah biographers, there is also a 20-minute compilation of audio clips of the director and his two leads separately talking about the movie. Perhaps the most interesting thing in it is McQueen's comment that they took High Sierra as the model for how The Getaway should look and feel, and that he wanted Doc McCoy to be the same sort of sympathetic underdog criminal as Bogart's Roy Earle in Raoul Walsh's 1941 thriller. I wouldn't say we get as emotionally attached to McCoy as we do to Earle because, for better or worse, the movie jettisoned the novel's background details and because McGraw is no Ida Lupino (but who is?). McQueen mentions having read Thompson's 1958 paperback novel, while Peckinpah states that he tried to option the book a decade before, but someone had beat him to it. That someone was the movie's producer, David Foster.

A Thompson featurette might have gotten into how The Getaway was the first Thompson movie adaptation, and how in the past 20 years his searing novels have become more famous than ever and been filmed more than ever. Thompson was still alive when Peckinpah made The Getaway, but as pulp paperbacks became a thing of the past, he had been relegated to penning novelizations, including one for TV's Ironside. No doubt the success of the McQueen movie was a financial and emotional shot in the arm for the man. I'm sure Thompson biographer Robert Polito (who appears on the extras on the DVD of The Grifters) and The Getaway screenwriter Walter Hill (who's nowhere to be found on this disc) would have tales to tell about Thompson. Of course, the movie was remade unremarkably in 1994 with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, another married couple, playing the leads. Like McQueen and McGraw, they broke up a few years after playing Thompson's married criminals.

For more information about The Getaway, visit Warner Video. To order The Getaway, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman
The Getaway (Deluxe Edition) - The Getaway (Special Edition) On Dvd

The Getaway (Deluxe Edition) - The Getaway (Special Edition) on DVD

There are three important ways to look at 1972's The Getaway: as a Steve McQueen movie, a Sam Peckinpah movie or a Jim Thompson movie. The new The Getaway Deluxe Edition DVD does a good job at the first, as it partially owes its existence to Warner Home Video's recent Steve McQueen boxed set. It covers director Peckinpah's role more extensively, rounding up the trio of Peckinpah biographers from MGM's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia disc for another affable audio commentary. Alas, it only incidentally touches upon the movie in relation to Thompson, whose novel provided the source material (other Thompson adaptations over the years have included The Grifters, The Killer Inside Me and After Dark, My Sweet). So while this is a very good DVD of a very good action-thriller, I wouldn't go so far as to call it definitive. The Getaway is relatively conventional territory for both Peckinpah and Thompson. The story of veteran bank robber Doc McCoy (McQueen) and wife Carol (Ali McGraw) eluding a corrupt backer (Ben Johnson) and a vengeful cohort (Al Lettieri) after a Texas heist, this bullet-riddled road movie is faithful to most of Thompson's novel, despite betraying the overall irony of Thompson's title (his tale is a steady descent into hell in which Doc and Carol do not get the escape hatch afforded their movie counterparts). Many of the best sequences come right out of the novel, smartly rendered by Peckinpah, while the book's most extreme endurance test for the couple (three days and nights spent in a sweltering dung heap), has been wisely transferred to a death-defying trip in the hold of a garbage truck with a hydraulic compactor the driver is very fond of using. We usually think of excess when we think of Peckinpah, most readily from the trademark slow-motion violence of 1969's The Wild Bunch. We don't often think of his nuts-and-bolts filmmaking. Yet despite the gunplay and occasional slow-mo in The Getaway, the movie is ample evidence that he could really tell a story in more traditional ways, too. The crisp opening detailing the grinding monotony of Doc McCoy's prison stint, the cross-cutting among all the elements of the heist and a tense sequence in which McQueen scours a train for a con man who bamboozled Carol out of their bag of ill-gotten money are all textbook examples of visual storytelling. Peckinpah and McQueen had just come off of the flop Junior Bonner together (another fine collaboration), while McQueen laid a more high-profile egg before that with Le Mans, so the emphasis here was to make a crowd-pleaser, and they definitely succeeded. Balancing the crime story is the romance between Doc and Carol. Their relationship has to survive the fact that she slept with a member of the parole board (Johnson) in order to get Doc out of jail, as well as overcome the stress of being outlaws on the run. This part of the story doesn't date as well as the brisk action. McGraw's performance has always been flat, but her star power gave it a big boost when the movie was new (this was her first film after the pop culture phenomenon that was Love Story). She's beautiful, and we don't doubt Doc's affection for Carol for a moment (indeed, McQueen and McGraw each divorced their spouses to be married after falling in love during the shoot). But, 30+ years later, McGraw comes off as awfully dainty for the rough-and-tumble role. Typically for a Peckinpah movie, the stars bump into all sorts of colorful supporting players during the story, many, like Johnson, familiar faces in the director's movies. These include Dub Taylor, Slim Pickens, Bo Hopkins and Richard Bright. In addition to the audio commentary with the Peckinpah biographers, there is also a 20-minute compilation of audio clips of the director and his two leads separately talking about the movie. Perhaps the most interesting thing in it is McQueen's comment that they took High Sierra as the model for how The Getaway should look and feel, and that he wanted Doc McCoy to be the same sort of sympathetic underdog criminal as Bogart's Roy Earle in Raoul Walsh's 1941 thriller. I wouldn't say we get as emotionally attached to McCoy as we do to Earle because, for better or worse, the movie jettisoned the novel's background details and because McGraw is no Ida Lupino (but who is?). McQueen mentions having read Thompson's 1958 paperback novel, while Peckinpah states that he tried to option the book a decade before, but someone had beat him to it. That someone was the movie's producer, David Foster. A Thompson featurette might have gotten into how The Getaway was the first Thompson movie adaptation, and how in the past 20 years his searing novels have become more famous than ever and been filmed more than ever. Thompson was still alive when Peckinpah made The Getaway, but as pulp paperbacks became a thing of the past, he had been relegated to penning novelizations, including one for TV's Ironside. No doubt the success of the McQueen movie was a financial and emotional shot in the arm for the man. I'm sure Thompson biographer Robert Polito (who appears on the extras on the DVD of The Grifters) and The Getaway screenwriter Walter Hill (who's nowhere to be found on this disc) would have tales to tell about Thompson. Of course, the movie was remade unremarkably in 1994 with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, another married couple, playing the leads. Like McQueen and McGraw, they broke up a few years after playing Thompson's married criminals. For more information about The Getaway, visit Warner Video. To order The Getaway, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

Trivia

The orange Volkswagen Beetle that Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw pass as they flee town after the bank heist is driven by James Garner. Garner had been visiting a friend on the shoot and was hired for his vehicular skills by stunt vet Carey Loftin.

Shot almost entirely in sequence.

For this film, Ali McGraw learned how to fire a gun and how to drive a car.

The radio station playing at the drive-in restaurant is WHIL, an obvious reference to scriptwriter 'Hill, Walter' .

The movie was supposed be directed by Peter Bogdanovich and star Cybill Shepherd, his girlfriend at the time. When Shepherd was replaced by Ali MacGraw. Bogdanovich left the project and was replaced with Sam Peckinpah.

Notes

The following written acknowledgment appears in the onscreen credits: "Our thanks to the Texas Film Commmission, and in particular to Warren Skaaren, Executive Director, for his cooperation in the making of this film." An August 1971 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Peter Bogdanovich was to direct The Getaway which was to be released by Paramount. A November 1971 Daily Variety article noted that Paramount had withdrawn from negotiations to produce and distribute the film and National General had taken over the release. By December 1971, Hollywood Reporter reported that Sam Peckinpah was the film's director. Actor Steve McQueen and Peckinpah had worked together in 1971 on the Cinerama production of Junior Bonner. The Getaway marked the first project for McQueen as part of First Artists, a company formed by actors Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier and McQueen.
       According to Filmfacts, Jack Palance was intially cast in the film but was replaced by Al Lettieri prior to production. The article also added that Jerry Fielding had composed the film's original score, which was discarded by McQueen, who then commissioned Quincy Jones for a new score. Filmfacts added that later reports indicated that McQueen had had the film re-edited and that Peckinpah at some point threatened to have his name removed from the credits. Gordon T. Dawson's credits read "Associate Producer and 2d Unit Director." Although onscreen credits list John Bryson's character as "The Accountant," and "Jack Beynon" introduces him to "Doc McCoy" as his brother, Bryson's character is never called by name. In the same scene when Doc arrives, a henchmen alerts Beynon by calling "Claude," but no one has that name in the film. Jim Thompson's source novel was set in the 1940s, and, according to Filmfacts, the film initially was to be set in the 1940s as well. The Getaway was shot on location at Huntsville prison, San Marcos, San Antonio and El Paso, TX. Modern sources as Hal Smith and Tommy Splittgerber to the cast.
       As recounted in numerous contemporary and modern sources, during filming of The Getaway, McQueen became romantically involved with co-star Ali MacGraw, who was married to producer and Paramount chief-of-production Robert Evans. McQueen's fifteen-year marriage to actress Neile Adams had been strained for some time and six weeks into the production, their divorce became final. MacGraw divorced Evans by the end of 1972 and in August 1973 married McQueen. MacGraw did not make another film until 1978 after her marriage with McQueen ended. In 1994, a remake of The Getaway, co-written by Walter Hill, was produced by Universal Pictures, starring then husband-and-wife Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger, directed by Roger Donaldson.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States June 2000

Shown at Anthology Film Archives in New York City as part of a Sam Peckinpah Retrospective, June 1-11, 2000.

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States June 2000 (Shown at Anthology Film Archives in New York City as part of a Sam Peckinpah Retrospective, June 1-11, 2000.)