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					              THE BALLAD OF CA BLE HOGUE
DIRECTOR: Sam Peckinpah
WRITER: John Crawford, Edmund Penney
ORIGINAL MUSIC: Jerry Goldsmith, Richard Gillis
CAST: Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
FORMAT: 35mm


 How do you follow The Wild Bunch? You follow your heart, not the expectations of studio executives,
 critics or audiences. Which is one of the reasons Sam Peckinpah’s career is both inspirational and
 cautionary; he did what we all wish to do with our lives, both personal and professional, and paid the
 price. Movies such as Cable Hogue have so much to offer yet have remained ‘lost’ for too long.
 For the most part bereft of the ‘trademark violence’ with which Peckinpah had been linked (by only a
 single film at this point), this is a restatement of his underlying Revisionist Western theme. The old ways
 are passing, and the men who built the West are dying out or being killed off by the new world.
 It’s significant to note the role of motorised transport in this film; intimating the death of Hogue and
 Joshua’s thriving business, bringing back Hogue’s beloved Hildy and the promise of a comfortable new
 life with her and just as easily killing him on the verge of his new beginning.
 Throughout it all there runs a much lighter vein than we would see in any other Peckinpah film, there’s a
 sense of comedy to much of the characters although in a more realistically knockabout fashion as we’d
 expect from Sam and the actors he drew around him. If only more romantic-comedies were this
 entertaining. If there’s any man who could pull off such an image as Jason Robards crooning to his
 girlfriend while scrubbing her down in the tub, it was Peckinpah.
 It’s curious to note which of his own films Peckinpah enjoyed the most. While he remained justifiably
 proud of such major works as The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs, it was films like Junior Bonner and Cable
 Hogue which held a special place in his heart. Perhaps it’s their sense of hope, a vision however fleeting
 of domestic stability. This was something Sam never truly achieved in his life; three marriages, only the
 gods know how many mistresses, no stable home, substance abuse on a rock star scale and
 increasingly violent confrontations with studio executives. Self-destruction wasn’t a way of life, it was
 simply that Sam couldn’t avoid it. And he knew it, which is why he could make a film like Cable Hogue
 with utmost sincerity, a kind of wish fulfilment, but always tempered by tragic reality.

                 Produced by XXXXXXXXXXX for the Screen Studies Dept, Flinders University
                            THE WILD BUNCH
DIRECTOR: Sam Peckinpah
ORIGINAL MUSIC: Jerry Fielding
CAST: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
FORMAT: 35mm



                Produced by XXXXXXXX for the Screen Studies Dept, Flinders University
What more can be said of such a film as this? That it’s one of those perfect moments in cinema history
when everything came together and the stars were just right is beyond doubt. That the studio did
everything in it’s power to mess up this masterpiece is also the stuff of legend, but sometimes the stars
continue to favour brilliance and today we can still revel in the unalloyed perfection of The Wild Bunch.
The script was brought to the recently back-in-favour Peckinpah as not much more than a standard
Spaghetti Western, planned by the studio to get the jump on the much awaited Butch Cassidy And The
Sundance Kid. Yet through a serious rewrite which deepened characterisations, brilliant casting and a
top notch crew behind the camera, Sam managed to bring his vision to the screen and make everything
the Hollywood studio system had produced in the latter half of the 60s look like a prologue to his
masterpiece. It polarised critics and audiences (still does, that’s how brilliant this film is!) and honed
techniques for staging action scenes which rapidly became a tired cliché in lesser hands.
But through all the blood and thunder, between the shootouts of almost sexual intensity which bookend
this film, there is the familiar Peckinpah theme of the dying American West delivered with sharp dialogue
by rock solid actors. William Holden was the perfect, though not the first, choice for the aging and nearly
burnt-out Pike Bishop as his star had waned in the fickle Hollywood sky. He had the right weariness, the
‘lonely back’ which Peckinpah demanded for a single shot, to lead a gang of desperate men on their last
go-around. Holden was grasping for a shot at professional salvation as much as Pike. As much as
This sense of desperation drove the cast and crew to put their souls into each moment of the film,
investing it with a rare power to move the audience enough to care about men who would use innocent
women as human shields, and consistently break their own code of honour throughout the movie. When
the gang dies in The Battle Of Bloody Porch it’s with a sense of tragic heroism. They never intended to
survive; rather they throw their lives away with reckless abandon, achieving redemption.
There’s much more to say about the movie; children, mechanisation, foreign entanglements and so forth.
Or about its troubled history; botched quality control on release, haphazardly cut versions, and ratings
fiascos. But once the film starts they’ll be irrelevant for the next 145 minutes. Forty years after it was
unleashed on the world, we can continue to bask in the magnificence of The Wild Bunch as Sam
Peckinpah envisioned it. Sit back and enjoy, every frame is like a revelation, and cinema has never been
the same since.

                  Produced by XXXXXXXX for the Screen Studies Dept, Flinders University