The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film by W.K. Stratton
Kevin Brianton, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
Stratton has written a highly entertaining account of the creation of the Wild Bunch. Beginning with the premise that it is the greatest film ever made, he is clearly besotted with the film. It would have been good to have some critical distance to give the book a bit more weight.
The film has its problems, particularly with the depiction of women, and Stratton is not equipped to deal with such issues. It rewrote how violence was depicted on the screen and reset the boundaries for westerns. A great film – yes. The greatest – well it does not stand up that well against the classic Ford or Mann westerns. At least he lays his cards on the table from the beginning.
Stratton is too fixated on colorful stories of drinking and carousing to really understand how such a shambles of production, became a great film. Still the account gives an insight into the creative chaos of Peckinpah. A director who lived in the space between genius and madness.
The highest compliment I can pay the book is that it made me watch the film again.