American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre Presents...
Making Movie History for 80 Years!

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Series compiled by:  Chris D. and Dennis Bartok, with the generous assistance of Katy Haber, David O. Weddle, Paul Seydor and Nick Redman.

 

Special Thanks to: Daniel Melnick; Alex Winitsky/Lantana Productions; John Herron/Canal + Image UK; Marilee Womack/Warner Bros.; Fritz Herzog/Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences – Television Archive; Chip Blake, Schawn Belston, Billy Hall /20th Century Fox; Anne Goodman/Criterion; John Kirk, Irene Ramos, Latanya Taylor/MGM/UA; Mike Schlesinger, Grover Crisp/Sony Pictures (Columbia); Mary Tallungan/Disney (ABC); Tom Thurman; Brock McDaniels, Steve Belgard/Starz Encore (Westerns Channel); Jonathan Gaines.

 

 

 

 

Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $9 general admission unless noted otherwise.
Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.
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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<<< May 6 - 16, 2004 >>>

The Ballad of Bloody Sam: The Films of Sam Peckinpah

 

Director Sam Peckinpah (1925 – 1984) is one of the true legends of 20th century Hollywood, a prodigious, no-nonsense filmmaker who honed his chops on television, writing and directing entries for such oaters as "GUNSMOKE," "THE RIFLEMAN" (which he created) and, last but not least, "THE WESTERNER" (which he also created and produced). Although low ratings forced "THE WESTERNER" off the air after only a half season, it has come to be revered as one of the best Western TV shows of all time, and we’re happy to present four of the episodes in this retrospective.

Peckinpah got his break in feature films directing THE DEADLY COMPANIONS starring Maureen O’Hara and "WESTERNER" lead Brian Keith. Though compromised by producer interference, the film still impressed many with its finely-etched characters and themes of loyalty and betrayal. Fortunately, his next film, RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, was regarded as a masterpiece and served as a fitting swansong for its stars – Western cinema icons Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. Sadly, the follow-up MAJOR DUNDEE emerged as a troubled production. The studio removed segments detailing much of Dundee’s disillusion and emotional rejuvenation in Mexico. To his lasting credit, DUNDEE star Charlton Heston offered to waive his considerable salary if Columbia Pictures would refrain from firing Peckinpah during production. This set a pattern of studio interference that would dog Peckinpah through the rest of his boisterous career, but he managed to maintain much of his vision with ensuing films.

Prime evidence came in 1969 with Peckinpah’s epic THE WILD BUNCH, a brutal revisionist Western that held audiences in a vise-like grip for 144 grueling, intoxicating minutes, and is often credited (rightly or wrongly) with pioneering a new era of graphic on-screen violence. More masterworks followed, including the savage STRAW DOGS, wistful and bawdy BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE, heartbreakingly lyrical PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID and macabre tall-tale BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA. Peckinpah also made such exciting, action-packed paeans to rugged individualism as JUNIOR BONNER and THE GETAWAY and such trenchant examinations of institutionalized treachery as CROSS OF IRON and THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND.

Sometimes hard-to-get-along-with, sometimes pigheaded and ornery-as-hell, Peckinpah still remains one of the most beloved and influential directors of the last fifty years, engendering affection and loyalty from virtually all who worked with him throughout his career. We are very pleased and proud to be able to finally present this long-awaited retrospective of the films of Sam Peckinpah on the twentieth anniversary of his death.

 

Thursday, May 6 – 7:15 PM

THE WILD BUNCH, 1969, Warner Bros., 145 min. Saddle up for a screening of director Sam Peckinpah’s magnificent, ultra-violent Western, starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates and Jaime Sanchez as a band of doomed outlaws trying to outrun history. Exceedingly controversial upon its initial release, THE WILD BUNCH forever changed the way violence was depicted and perceived in the movies. Co-starring Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, L.Q. Jones, Bo Hopkins and Strother Martin. Preceded by the documentary: "The Wild Bunch: An Album In Montage," 1996, 34 min. Dir. Paul Seydor. Nominated for a 1997 Oscar for Best Documentary Short, this is a concise, fascinating look at Peckinpah’s western masterwork. [Friendly Note! For audience members who haven’t seen THE WILD BUNCH, the documentary does give away key plot points.] Discussion following with actor Bo Hopkins, documentary director Paul Seydor, biographer David O. Weddle and author Garner Simmons.

 

Friday, May 7 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE, 1970, Warner Bros., 121 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. This whimsical, sweetly melancholy, ultimately uplifting fable stars Jason Robards as Cable, a prospector left in the desert to die by partners L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin. But in a classic turning-lemons-into-lemonade twist, Cable discovers a freshwater spring and establishes a stagecoach rest stop on the spot, the perfect occupation for a cantankerous loner. Things couldn’t be going better with prostitute love-of-his-life Hildy (Stella Stevens) moving in with him. But then a newfangled invention rears its ugly head – the automobile. David Warner is excellent as Cable’s con man preacher pal, Joshua. Discussion between films with actress Stella Stevens (BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE).

BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA, 1974, MGM/UA, 112 min. Director Sam Peckinpah’s macabre shaggy dog story rises to the status of existential masterpiece before the last frame unspools. A ruthless land baron (Emilio Fernandez) offers a huge bounty to find Alfredo Garcia, the father of his daughter’s unborn child. Piano-playing, expatriate loser Bennie (Warren Oates in one of his finest roles) shambles through the hellish backwater villages of rural Mexico on the hunt for "easy" money, a deadly pilgrimage that could jeopardize Bennie’s one real chance at happiness – the love of his loyal, prostitute girlfriend Elita (Isela Vega). Look for the incomparable Robert Webber and Gig Young as the pokerfaced killers tailing Bennie.

Features preceded by an episode of: "THE WESTERNER" – "Jeff" (Pilot Episode), 1960, Four Star TV (Fox/Criterion), 25 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. A portrait of innocence corrupted, this was the series premiere: Dave Blassingame (Brian Keith), the Westerner of the series title, tries to rescue a childhood friend who’s become a prostitute. Note that the cinematographer was Lucien Ballard, who shot four of Peckinpah’s films including RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY and THE WILD BUNCH. Warren Oates appears in a small role.

Saturday, May 8 – 5:00 PM

Special Sneak Preview – Brand New Documentary:

SAM PECKINPAH’S WEST: LEGACY OF A HOLLYWOOD RENEGADE, 2004, Starz Encore, 89 min. Director Tom Thurman (JOHN FORD GOES TO WAR) put together this feature-length original documentary for the Westerns Channel examining the groundbreaking, unorthodox visions of the American West conjured up by "Bloody Sam." Complete with narration by Kris Kristofferson and film clips integrated into brand new interviews with performers L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Stella Stevens and Harry Dean Stanton, along with Peckinpah fans Benicio del Toro and Billy Bob Thornton, and film critics Elvis Mitchell and Roger Ebert. Discussion following with director Tom Thurman, writer Tom Marksbury and Peckinpah expert Paul Seydor.

 

Saturday, May 8 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, 1962, Warner Bros., 94 min. Peckinpah’s first uncontested masterpiece is this elegiac portrait of the end of the Wild West, embodied in the form of two aging friends (unforgettably played by Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea) with very different agendas, who are hired to guard a shipment of gold. Lucien Ballard’s cinematography was never better, capturing the untainted splendor of the high mountains and the bone-weary sadness of two men nearing the end of their lives’ trails. With Mariette Hartley, Ronald Starr.

MAJOR DUNDEE, 1965, Sony (Columbia), 123 min. Tragically re-edited by the studio before its release, director Sam Peckinpah’s ill-fated Western may never be seen in its full form, but still has enough raw, ragged glory to turn heads. Charlton Heston stars as a Union officer at the end of the Civil War who’s forced to depend on a crew of deserters, murderers and Confederates, as he pursues a renegade Apache band into Mexico. In a show of support reminiscent of TOUCH OF EVIL eight years earlier, Heston backed up Peckinpah during shooting, allowing him to finish the film despite fierce studio interference. Co-starring Richard Harris, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson.

Features preceded by an episode of: "THE WESTERNER" – "Brown," 1960, Four Star TV (Fox/Criterion), 25 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. Starring Brian Keith. In the course of a hilarious three-day bender during a July Fourth celebration, Blassingame’s con man pal Burgundy Smith (John Dehner), tries to trick Blassingame into selling his dog Brown (the same dog who played Disney’s Old Yeller). Screenplay by Bruce Geller. Introduction to screening by Peckinpah expert Paul Seydor.

 

Sunday, May 9 – 5:00 PM

Double Feature:

Rare Uncut Euro Version!! CROSS OF IRON, 1977, Lantana Productions, 133 min. James Coburn turns in one of the best performances of his career as war-weary German Sergeant Steiner in one of director Sam Peckinpah’s hardest-to-see masterworks. Stationed at WWII’s Russian front where just trying to keep his squad out of the daily slaughter is an ordeal. Another threat is added to the mix when an unscrupulous commanding officer, glory-seeking Captain Stransky (Maximilian Schell), takes over. A fierce, uncompromising look at the chaos of war with able support from James Mason, David Warner and Senta Berger.

THE KILLER ELITE, 1975, MGM/UA, 122 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. Independent covert operative Locken (James Caan) is betrayed and seriously wounded by best friend Hansen (Robert Duvall), who has decided to flip allegiances when the other side offers more money. Initially, Locken refuses to return to the freelance spy game, but cynical former bosses Gig Young and Arthur Hill lure him back with a promise of going up against his former comrade. With Bo Hopkins, Burt Young, Mako. Discussion following with actors Bo Hopkins and Burt Young (THE KILLER ELITE).

 

Friday, May 14 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:
Restored European Version! Brand-New Print Off Original Negative!!

STRAW DOGS, 1971, ABC (Disney), 118 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. Enormously controversial upon its initial release, this tale of an intellectual pacifist (Dustin Hoffman), pushed to the limit by a sadistic, hard-drinking family of hooligans, was cut by several minutes in the U.S., including graphic footage of spouse Susan George's rape and the bone-jarring, blood-drenched climax, which softened the ferocious impact of Peckinpah’s allegory of supposedly-civilized humans reverting to their most primitive state. Discussion between films with producer Daniel Melnick (STRAW DOGS) and longtime Peckinpah assistant & friend Katy Haber.

JUNIOR BONNER, 1972, ABC (Disney), 100 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. Steve McQueen is Junior Bonner, a restless rodeo star trying to deal with drifter con man dad Robert Preston and outspoken, responsible mom Ida Lupino, as well as girlfriend Barbara Leigh – while he’s not getting his head busted on bucking broncs. A sometimes funny, sometimes melancholic meditation on Americans who’ve forsaken the 9-to-5 strait-jacket to thrive in a much more rugged lifestyle. With Ben Johnson and Joe Don Baker.

Features preceded by an episode of: "THE WESTERNER" – "The Courting Of Libby," 1960, Four Star TV (Fox/Criterion), 25 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. Starring Brian Keith. Another wry comic episode again featuring Blassingame’s con man pal Burgundy Smith (John Dehner) as they vie for the attention of the title character. Screenplay by Bruce Geller.

 

Saturday, May 15 – 5:00 PM

PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID, 1973, Warner Bros., 122 min. Director Sam Peckinpah’s take on the famous outlaw’s rise and fall is nothing less than magnifcent – a sprawling, plaintive, achingly-exquisite reflection on loss of all kinds. Billy (Kris Kristofferson) and his loose-knit gang (amongst them Bob Dylan, who also supplied the beautiful score) butt heads with cattle industry interests devouring the countryside, something that steers them on a collision course with old comrade and new sheriff, Pat Garrett (James Coburn). Watch for the "Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door" sequence with Sheriff Baker (Slim Pickens) and his wife (Katy Jurado), one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful in the history of western cinema. With Harry Dean Stanton, R.G. Armstrong, Donnie Fritts, L.Q. Jones.

Preceded by an episode of: "THE WESTERNER" – "Hand On The Gun," 1960, Four Star TV, 25 min. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. Starring Brian Keith. A callow Easterner’s romantic notions of heroism, shaped by reading dime novels, are cut tragically short by the reality of Western violence. Screenplay by Bruce Geller (later the creator of "Mission: Impossible"). Michael Ansara co-stars. Discussion following with actor Donnie Fritts and Peckinpah expert Paul Seydor.

 

Saturday, May 15 – 8:45 PM

Double Feature:

THE GETAWAY, 1972, Warner Bros., 122 min. Director Sam Peckinpah adapts writer Jim Thompson’s savage pulp classic with tightly wound Steve McQueen as escaped bank robber Doc McCoy. To spring him from the joint, devoted wife Ali McGraw enlists the help of corrupt fat-cat Ben Johnson, who wants McCoy to execute a seemingly impossible robbery. Al Lettieri is the memorably sleazy killer who dogs the couple’s trail after thieves fall out. With Sally Struthers.

CONVOY, 1978, MGM/UA, 106 min. For some strange reason, CB radios and long distance truckers became all the rage in the late seventies. When C.W. McCall’s country hit, "Convoy" rocketed up the pop charts as well, the phenomenon took on a life of its own. Bill L. Norton (CISCO PIKE) wrote the screenplay for director Sam Peckinpah’s irascible action comedy about a trucker known as Rubber Duck (Kris Kristofferson) who, in league with his gal Melissa (Ali McGraw), leads a rebellious convoy of like-minded drivers in protest against a brutally repressive sheriff called Cottonmouth (Ernest Borgnine). With Burt Young, Franklin Ajaye, Seymour Cassel. Introduction to films by actors Bo Hopkins (THE GETAWAY), Burt Young and Donnie Fritts (CONVOY).

 

Sunday, May 16 – 5:00 PM

Double Feature With Added Peckinpah Music Video Program:

THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND, 1983, 20th Century Fox, 103 min. Director Sam Peckinpah’s last film is a nerve-jangling, vastly underrated adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s Cold War thriller, with Rutger Hauer as a muckraking TV talk show host clued-in at the last minute by a grudge-holding CIA renegade (John Hurt) that several of his weekend guests (Craig T. Nelson, Dennis Hopper, Helen Shaver, Chris Sarandan, etc.) are Soviet spies. The weekend quickly escalates from subtle mind games to violent double crosses. By the end, Hauer is just trying to keep his family alive through the suburban holocaust. With Burt Lancaster, Meg Foster, Cassie Yates.

FROM ALPHA TO OMEGA: THE MAKING OF "THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND," 2004, 78 min. Dir. Jonathan Gaines. An intriguing look behind the scenes on Sam Peckinpah’s last film, including interviews with producers Bill Panzer and Peter Davis, cast members Rutger Hauer, John Hurt, Helen Shaver, Meg Foster, Craig T. Nelson, Chris Sarandon and Cassie Yates and longtime friend and agent, Marty Baum. Includes details on Peckinpah’s original cut of the film – including deleted psychedelic scenes at the beginning illustrating John Hurt’s character’s warped state of mind – as well as insights into the problems of bonding and insuring the reputedly un-insurable Peckinpah.

THE LAST WORK OF SAM PECKINPAH: The Julian Lennon Music Videos. 1984, Springtime Productions, 7 mins. Dir. Sam Peckinpah. At the time of  his death in 1984, Peckinpah was in pre-production with producer Martin Lewis on a full-length documentary profile of John Lennon's son - Julian Lennon. As a by-product of that project - Peckinpah directed the two music videos that launched Julian Lennon's music career. They were Peckinpah's first-ever music videos - and sadly - his last-ever work. He died shortly after completing the videos and just before the filming of the documentary was due to start. Peckinpah - who had known John Lennon ten years earlier - took the project very seriously. He recruited one of his favorite cinematographers Alex Phillips Jr. ("Alfredo Garcia" "Romancing The Stone" "Murphy's Law.") Peckinpah's last production was a surreal adventure that has achieved mythological status. Utilizing 20 hours of just-discovered unseen behind-the-scenes footage - producer Martin Lewis is now working on a documentary about the experience - working title "The Wild LUNCH! - A Soup's on Of Sam Peckinpah"  Discussion following with documentary director Jonathan Gaines and film producer Martin Lewis.