Monday, May 13, 2013

NY Times Peckinpah DVDs excellent

Maureen O’Hara and Brian Keith in Sam Peckinpah’s western “The Deadly Companions” (1961).

May 10, 2013

Early Salvos From ‘Bloody Sam’

Sam Peckinpah’s life, like many of his movies, ended in a kind of apocalyptic debacle. Too many arguments with producers, too much alcohol-fueled misbehavior and (always the real problem) too many disappointments at the box office had rendered the director of “The Wild Bunch” (1969) effectively unemployable by the time he died in 1984, at 59.
But the romantic myth of the visionary rebel destroyed by the system is a powerful one, and Peckinpah’s has steadily grown in the decades since his death. Amazon lists over a dozen biographies and critical studies of Peckinpah currently in print, and the Internet overflows with fan sites and tributes. The cult of personality inspired by “Bloody Sam” now threatens to overwhelm the films themselves — a shame, since there is much to be rediscovered in Peckinpah’s work, and particularly in those movies that don’t necessarily conform to the sanguinary image: films like “Ride the High Country” (1962), “The Ballad of Cable Hogue” (1970), “Junior Bonner” (1972) and the 1966 television drama “Noon Wine.”
Peckinpah wasn’t always the fierce and terrible contrarian he became in later years. He seems to have come up through the system in a standard way, from college theatrics to television work, and eventually a job as a dialogue director with the gifted genre specialist Don Siegel, who would later mentor Clint Eastwood’s directing career. (Peckinpah makes a brief appearance, as a gas meter reader, in Siegel’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” from 1956, a nonconformist parable that Peckinpah seems to have taken to heart, and later dubiously claimed to have extensively rewritten.)

Ed here: This section refers to "The Deadly Companion based on the finest western Gold Medal ever published, Yellowleg (he wrote many thrillers for both GM and Ace). The author of both book and screenplay was A.S.Fleischmann who went on to become one of the most revered and successful children's book writers in American history.
Dave Kehr:
Reportedly Peckinpah was not allowed to modify the script (by A. S. Fleischman) or participate in the final editing. But “The Deadly Companions” seems like pure Peckinpah from its opening scene, in which a group of children are seen torturing, not a scorpion as in “The Wild Bunch,” but one of their own; the outcast is the fatherless son of a dance hall girl, Kit Tildon (Ms. O’Hara). When a spasm of violence breaks out, the boy is accidentally shot and killed by a stranger in town, a former Union officer who goes by the generic name of Yellowleg (Keith).
Refusing to bury the boy amid the townspeople who had scorned him (and her), Kit resolves to haul his small coffin across unsettled territory, back to the now-abandoned outpost where her husband was killed and lies buried. Gallant and guilt-ridden, Yellowleg offers to accompany her, an offer Kit refuses until two quintessential Peckinpah villains — a half-crazed card shark (Chill Wills) and a sadistic young gunslinger (Steve Cochran) invite themselves along for the ride.
Although he’s working with a star (Ms. O’Hara) and a cinematographer (William H. Clothier) associated with John Ford, Peckinpah already seems determined to dissociate himself from Ford’s West: his frontier community is not an early bloom of civilization but rather a center of cruelty and hypocrisy; the Apaches the travelers will encounter on route are not Ford’s noble warriors but savages, pure and simple; the characters are driven not by the pioneer spirit but by vengefulness, bitterness and base profit. Though there had been anti-westerns before (notably Robert Aldrich’s caustic “Vera Cruz” of 1954), “The Deadly Companions” leaves no doubt that a corner has been turned.
for the rest of this fine art;postID=5155952748034581792;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=linkicle go here:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ed can you give us anything more about Gold Medal Westerns? Sounds fascinating.