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Sam Peckinpah: "Dying is not fun and games.

by Roger Ebert June 29, 1969 |
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FREEPORT, Grand Bahama Island -- Sam Pe !"n#ah$s %The &"ld Bun h,% 'h" h "s #(ss"bly )he m(s) *"(len) +"lm e*er made, s)"rred u# a b"))er (n)r(*ersy here, F"lm r")" s s#l"n) "n)( many am#s a) an e-)ra(rd"nary #ress (n+eren e, and e*en (-s)ars &"ll"am .(lden and Ernes) B(r/n"ne seemed sl"/h)ly s0ueam"sh ab(u) )he m(*"e, Bu) 1us) ab(u) e*ery(ne a/reed )ha) %The &"ld Bun h% '"ll be )h"s summer$s )(# b(--(++" e dra', +(r be))er (r '(rse, The +"lm 'as s reened +(r s(me 234 +"lm r")" s dur"n/ )he 'ee!l(n/ &arner Br(s, 5-6r)s %"n)erna)"(nal +"lm +es)"*al,% +es)"*al, a sh(' ase +(r s"- ne' &arners$ +"lms, The aud"en e rea )"(n 'as e-)reme, S(me #e(#le 'al!ed (u), O)hers l(sed )he"r eyes, &hen )he l"/h)s 'en) u#, )he a##lause 'as ma) hed by b((s and h"sses, 6nd )hen )he ar/umen)s s)ar)ed, They are l"!ely )( (n)"nue all summer, #r(*"d"n/ +(dder +(r (un)less ar)" les and )al! sh('s, Pe !"n#ah$s +"lm "s se) "n )he S(u)h'es) and 7e-" (, "r a 1912, The %bun h% (+ )he )")le are a /r(u# (+ #r(+ess"(nal !"llers and ban! r(bbers 'h( ha*e nearly rea hed )he end (+ )he l"ne, They$re ana h(n"sms, 23 years )(( la)e +(r )he '"ld &es), h(#"n/ )( #ull (++ (ne m(re /((d 1(b and re)"re, 6 l"+e (+ *"(len e has unsu")ed )hem +(r any)h"n/ else, They$re rude, +"l)hy, bl((d)h"rs)y, raun hy and s)u#"d, Bu) )hey ha*e a !"nd (+ h(n(r and l(yal)y )( ea h ()her, The +"lm (#ens '")h an e-)ra(rd"nary bl((dba)h (+ ab(u) se*en m"nu)es "n len/)h8 a )em#eran e #arade "s au/h) "n )he r(ss-+"re be)'een )he &"ld Bun h and a /r(u# (+ s ur*y ra"lr(ad /unmen led by R(ber) Ryan, Se*eral "*"l"ans are /unned d('n 1us) +(r )he hell (+ "), The (#en"n/ s ene "s he m(s) *"(len) I$*e e*er seen (n )he s reen--e- e#) +(r )he l(s"n/ s ene, By )he +"lms end, )he bun h has es a#ed "n)( 7e-" ( and /())en "n*(l*ed "n a s heme )( s)eal 9,S, army r"+les +(r an ersa): rebel /eneral, They$re d(uble- r(ssed, au/h) be)'een )he /eneral, Ryan$s men, and )he 6rmy, 6nd "n a +"nal "n red"ble bl((dba)h, s(me 244 men, '(men and h(rses d"e "n an (r/y (+ *"(len e, ;(u ha*e ne*er seen any)h"n/ l"!e "), .a*"n/ sa"d )h"s mu h, le) me say )ha) I adm"re %The &"ld Bun h% and (ns"der ") an "m#(r)an) a ) (+ +"lmma!"n/, I) "s easy en(u/h )( #r()es) a/a"ns) )he au)(ma)" *"(len e (+ )he I)al"an &es)erns< ") "s le/")"ma)e )( '(rry 'he)her m(*"e *"(len e "s s(meh(' (nne )ed )( )he *"(len e "n 6mer" an l"+e, Bu) %The &"ld Bun h,% ") seems )( me #resen)s dea)h and *"(len e "n su h a de+"n")"*e ="ndeed, e*en e- ess"*e> )erms )ha) ") be (mes, #arad(-" ally, a s)a)emen) a/a"ns) *"(len e, and a rea )"(n )( "), Pe !"n#ah =#re*"(us red")s8 %R"de )he ."/h ?(un)ry,% %7a1(r @undee%> has, +"rs) (+ all, made a ma/n"+" en)ly d"re )ed and a )ed +"lm, .(lden, B(r/n"ne, Ryan and Edm(nd O$Br"en are #ar)" ularly e++e )"*e "n r(les )ha) ma!e )he"r #re*"(us )(u/h-/uy hara )er":a)"(ns l((!

)rans#aren), Pe !"n#ah has marshaled an army (+ s)un)men and s#e "al e++e )s men +(r h"s ba))le s enes and +(r a )remend(us s ene (+ )he des)ru )"(n (+ a br"d/e, 6nd )he +"nal bl((dba)h "s )he m(s) e++e )"*ely #h()(/ra#hed ba))le s"n e Ors(n &elles$ %Falls)a++,% @y"n/ beh"nd a ma h"ne /un, .(lden man"a ally m('s d('n d(:ens (+ s(ld"ers, "*"l"ans, any(ne '")h"n ran/e, %I ne*er )h(u/h),% a lady "n )he aud"en e (m#la"ned, %)ha) I$d l"*e l(n/ en(u/h )( see &"ll"am .(lden sh(() a '(man,% Pe !"n#ah "n)r(du es a ne' )e hn(l(/y (+ *"(len e "n )h(se s enes, Bl((d a )ually s#ur)s +r(m /unsh() '(unds< 'e are sh('n )he +a e (+ *"(len e ra)her )han )he (m" -s)r"# subs)")u)e su##l"ed by m(s) &es)erns, 6ll (+ )h"s held l"))le 'e"/h) '")h m(s) (+ )he r")" s here, I /a)her, They (ns"dered )he +"lm )( be an e-#l(")a)"(n (+ *"(len e -- and )hey le) Pe !"n#ah and h"s (-s)ars ha*e ") '")h b()h barrels a) a #ress (n+eren e )he ne-) m(rn"n/, %I ha*e (nly (ne 0ues)"(n,% sa"d )he lady +r(m )he Reader$s @"/es), %&hy 'as )h"s +"lm e*er madeA% %&e 'an)ed )( sh(' *"(len e "n real )erms,% Pe !"n#ah sa"d, %@y"n/ "s n() +un and /ames, 7(*"es ma!e ") l((! s( de)a hed, &")h $The &"ld Bun h,$ #e(#le /e) "n*(l*ed 'he)her )hey l"!e ") (r n(), They d( n() ha*e )he m"ld rea )"(ns )( "),% %&hy d"d e*ery(ne bleed s( mu hA% an()her lady as!ed, %Bady,% B(r/n"ne sa"d, %d"d y(u e*er see any(ne sh() by a /un '")h(u) bleed"n/A% Bu) b()h B(r/n"ne and .(lden seemed )( be ra)her da:ed by )he +"lm )hemsel*es, .(lden re#(r)edly d(esn$) l"!e ") mu h< he +eels ")$s )(( *"(len) and needs add")"(nal u))"n/, B(r/n"ne )(ld )he #ress (n+eren e8 %&hen I 'as handed )he s r"#), )( be 0u")e h(nes) '")h y(u, I d"d n() read "n)( ") all )he (n)r(*ersy ") seems )( ha*e s)"rred u#, I had made *"(len) +"lms be+(re, (+ (urse< &es)erns and 'ar #" )ures, Ths "s a s r"#) ab(u) #e(#le 'h( ha*e (u)l"*ed )he"r )"me, 'h( ha*e ana hr(n"sms, I a e#)ed ") (n )h(se )erms, %&hen 'e 'ere a )ually sh(()"n/, 'e 'ere all re#ulsed a) )"mes, There 'ere n"/h)s 'hen 'e$d +"n"sh sh(()"n/ and I$d say, %7y G(d, my G(dC% Bu) I 'as al'ays ba ! )he ne-) m(rn"n/, be asue I s"n erely bel"e*ed 'e 'ere a h"e*"n/ s(me)h"n/,% &ha) ab(u) )he rum(rs, (ne r")" as!ed, )ha) )here 'as a near-mu)"ny (n )he se) "n rea )"(n )( Pe !"n#ah$s %(*er!"ll%A %D( mu)"ny,% Pe !"n#ah sa"d, 6n()her r")" as!ed8 %@(n$) y(u )h"n! y(u may ha*e ( as"(nally #assed (*er )ha) )h"n l"ne be)'een 'ha) an aud"en e "s '"ll"n/ )( a e#), and 'ha) ") "sn$)A &e +el) )ha) 'hen )he /eneral sl")s )he !"d$s )hr(a), )ha) 'as )he #("n) bey(nd 'h" h 'e really had d"++" ul)y,,,% %I !n(' 'ha) y(u mean,% Pe !"n#ah sa"d, %There "s a *ery, *ery )h"n l"ne, and I )h"n! 'e (#era)ed as l(se )( ") as 'e dared, &e h(#e )ha), +(r m(s) aud"en e, 'e s)ayed (n )h"s s"de (+ )he l"ne, Bu) I am '"ll"n/ )( adm") )ha) 'e may ha*e #assed (*er ") a) s(me #("n), &e +eel )he *"(len e "s a a)hars"s, a release, bu) s(me)"mes )he l"ne "s hard )( +"nd,%

%T( )ell y(u )he )ru)h,% Pe !"n#ah added a+)er a sh(r) #ause, %I really ann() s)and )( see )he +"lm mysel+ anym(re, I) "s )(( mu h an em()"(nal )h"n/, I sa' ") las) n"/h), bu) I d( n() 'an) )( see ") a/a"n +(r #erha#s +"*e years,%