One man and his quest for meaning turns into a Peckinpah classic. El Jefe is outraged to find that his daughter has fallen pregnant to a man who has upped and gone, after learning the identity of the rascal (Alfredo Garcia), he offers one million dollars to anyone who can bring him the head of the Lothario running man. On the trail are hit men Quill & Sappensly, Bennie & his prostitute girlfriend Elita, and some other Mexican bandit types, all of them are on a collision course that will bring far more than they all bargained for. This was the one film where director Sam Peckinpah felt he had the most control, the one where we apparently get his own cut and not some chopped up piece of work from interfering executives. Viewing it now some 34 years after its release, it stands up well as a testament to the work of a great director. On the surface it looks trashy, we have homosexual hit men, grave robbing, potential rape, murders abound, prostitution, lower than the low characters, in short the film is awash with Peckinpah traits. Yet it would be a disservice to even think this film isn't rich in thematic texture, for the journey that Bennie, our main protagonist takes is one of meaning, he is a loser, but we find him on this quest to find not only fortune, but respect and love. It's a bloody trail for sure, but it has much depth and no little Peckinpah humour to push the film to it's bloody yet triumphant finale. Warren Oates is rewarded by Peckinpah for years of sterling work for him by getting the lead role of Bennie, and he grasps it with both hands to turn in a wonderful performance that splits sadness and vibrancy with deft of ease. Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia has a harsh quality about it, be it the violence, or be it the sadness of the characters, but what isn't in doubt to me is that it's harshness is cloaked in Peckinpah splendour. 9/10
Some of the works of Peckinpah had been on my watch list for months, sitting there in a subfolder of a subfolder. From the choice of Straw Dogs and Cross of Iron, I chose the aforetitled, liking the idea of embarking on a bit of a journey through Mexico with a gritty protagonist as we experience splatterings of violence and negotiate the thoughts of a down and out vagabond making a ran for his riches. The film left me with mixed feelings. I enjoyed the path of Benny, experiencing how his character is unwavering in his desire to take that last lucky ticket out of debauchery street, but didn't care much for his journey's partner. While I appreciated the dynamic of the relationship, the understanding they both had that they weren't in love with each other, but all they both had, the chemistry and dialogue didn't really resonate with me at parts. I actually was rather glad when this relationship came to its abrupt end as the film entered its final 3rd. On top of that, there was major issues with the sound which made it difficult to fully immerse myself in the journey at times. I found myself feeling I was watching a caricature of a 70s movie now and again, as opposed to be engrossed in a gritty noir-esque adventure. But all in all, an enjoyable film which has left an impression. I always appreciate watching unpolished characters navigating circumstances plotted outside their usual courses, then watching how they deal with the inevitable implosion. From what I've read since, the film was one which perhaps accurately portrayed the director's life at the time of filming; dealing with various booze-infused demons. That rawness definitely shows, as does the inevitable imperfections in this movie's execution.
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