The name Sam Peckinpah (1925-1984) doesn’t come up much these days. But somewhere old Sam has to be amused that two films following in his footsteps are among the best reviewed movies of 2017.
Peckinpah, meanwhile, became known mostly for film violence in movies such as The Wild Bunch and The Getaway. Monty Python in the 1970s did a Peckinpah parody titled “Salad Days,” where a party is the English countrywide becomes an orgy of blood and severed limbs.
Peckinpah was more than that, of course. One of his earliest films, Ride the High Country, is a mix of ode to classic Westerns with key updates in the movie’s middle section. The 1962 film also lacks the kind of violence he’d be known for later.
There’s an edge to Peckinpah’s work. In a 1956 episode of Gunsmoke scripted (but not directed) by Peckinpah titled The Guitar, citizens of Dodge City manage to lynch two villainous types. But there’s nothing Matt Dillon (James Arness) can do about it. It’s also strongly implied his assistant Chester (Dennis Weaver) was in on it.
Also, there are a few of James Bond-related things related to Peckinpah.
Tomorrow Never Dies was directed by Roger Spottiswoode, who had an “editorial consultant” credit on Peckinpah’s The Getaway and was an editor on the director’s Straw Dogs and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.
Spottiswoode favored a slow motion technique similar to Peckinpah’s in Tomorrow Never Dies. Years later, the climax of the Sam Mendes-directed Skyfall was compared by some to Straw Dogs.
Anyway, Peckinpah’s name tends to be overshadowed by classic director such as John Ford and Howard Hawks as well as directors who started their career later, such as Steven Spielberg.
Still, in 2017, John Wick Chapter 2 and Logan seem to dip deep into Peckinpah techniques and themes.
In the two R-rated movies, the title characters kill dozens of people in messy ways. John Wick’s violence is a bit more stylized, akin to Peckinpah’s work. Both feature characters who are drawn into their situations reluctantly but don’t back down, not unlike Peckinpah’s Steve Judd (Joel McCrea) in Ride The High Country.
This isn’t to say the similarities are intentional. Logan cites a classic Western (and it’s about as subtle as a heart attack) not directed by Peckinpah (don’t click if you’re spoiler adverse).
Nevertheless, Peckinpah enthusiasts may find themselves amused if they sample either movie.
Filed under: James Bond Films, Uncategorized | Tagged: Gunsmoke, John Wick Chapter 2, Logan, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Roger Spottiswoode, Sam Mendes, Sam Peckinpah, Skyfall, Straw Dogs, The Getaway | 1 Comment »