The Wild Bunch (1969)

wild bunch poster 1969 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking, great cast, hardcore action

Long movie

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Wild Bunch

Studio:  Warner Bros.-Seven Arts

Genre(s):  Western/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  July 18, 1969

MPAA Rating:  R

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They’re coming for you!

The West is changing fast, but Pike Bishop (William Holden) and his gang are fighting a losing battle.  With the military moving in with the help of a former gang member named Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan), Pike and Dutch Engstrom (Ernest Borgnine) use the Mexican border as a means to evade authorities.  The gang finds themselves hired by a revolutionary to rob a train of American weapons.  Pike and Dutch realize they will be waking into a trap but getting the guns is only part of the danger.  With a volatile situation brewing in Mexico, the danger is growing and old gunmen with nothing to lose are dangerous.

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Call me Marty just one more time…

Directed by Sam Peckinpah, The Wild Bunch is a cult western classic.  The film was released to both praise and criticism for its violence and darkness and is often considered one of the best westerns or action films ever made.

Despite being a classic, I took forever to see The Wild Bunch.  Westerns aren’t necessarily my genre and the movie is of quite a length.  The movie is a great western, but I do have a few problems with the film that are more personal problems than technical problems.

The problem I have is with the story and the length of the film.  The opening sequence of the film with the robbery and the shootout puts the film running at a fast pace…then it goes to a snail’s pace until the final shootout at the end.  With a tone sometimes extremely light and other times extremely dark, the movie has a weird feel.  I realize the story is meant to build the characters and show their comradery (or lack thereof), but it feels really long in the middle.

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I just need some moisturizer

The minor problems with the script are made up by the cast and the look of the film.  William Holden is great as the broken and lost gang leader, and Ernest Borgnine provides his advice and guidance.  I like Robert Ryan as the man forced to work with the authorities to capture his old team but I think even more could have been done with him. Edmond O’Brien also plays the classic prospector-trail cook character, and Jaime Sánchez as Angel who provides the only real moral compass for the characters as the Mexican wishing for more for his people.

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Suck it, Rambo!!!

The movie looks fantastic.  Peckinpah based a lot of his look and style on Akira Kurosawa’s films and revolutionized the slow-mo shootout that was seen before in Bonnie and Clyde.  The movie does have some rather odd flashback styles that I don’t think always work and some of the comedy seems out of place.

The Wild Bunch was rushing the other revolutionary Western film in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to get to the screen.  Both films have a lot of merit.  Though I enjoy Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid more, I think that The Wild Bunch is probably a better film and with the violent and dark nature of the film, it isn’t for everyone.  There has been talk of a remake of The Wild Bunch floating around for years…I hope it doesn’t happen, but in an age of remakes, I’m sure the Wild Bunch will ride again.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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