Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"Start the ball": Peckinpah month on The Agitation of the Mind

The 28th December marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the legendary director's death and in commemoration I'm devoting the whole of this month to a celebration of Peckinpah's life and work. Tomorrow, I'll be presenting a brief biographical overview, then a consideration of his work for the small screen. It was Peckinpah's association with actor Brian Keith on the groundbreaking TV show 'The Westerner' that led to his big screen debut, 'The Deadly Companions'. The film was compromised by the interference of its producer, something that set the pattern for the rest of Peckinpah's career.

There'll be reviews of each of his fourteen feature films, a whistlestop tour of unrealised Peckinpah projects, a "greatest hits" run-down of his most maverick on-set moments, a veritable lexicon of quintessential quotations (some from the films, some from the man himself), a perusal of available literature on Peckinpah, and an evaluation of his legacy and the controversies that still surround him.

In the meantime, to whet the appetite, a quick keyword search of Peckinpah's name on some of my favourite blogs has turned up a wealth of material already out there. I'll be adding links and resources throughout the month, but the following are a good start:

Tim at Antagony & Ecstacy appraises 'Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid' in his eloquent article 'How Civilized Men Behave'.

There's more on 'Pat and Billy' at Goodfella's Movie Blog in an equally essential article which evokes the haunting qualities of the film beautifully.

Classic Maiden cites 'Ride the High Country' as one of her top ten favourite westerns.

'Revisiting Sam Peckinpah's Convoy' sees Dennis at Sergio Leone & The Infield Fly Rule ponder the appeal of Peckinpah's penultimate project, a C&W scored melange of big rigs, dirty cops and indecipherable CB-speak.

J.D. at Radiator Heaven - a supporter of this project from when I first announced it back in August - muses on the career of frequent Peckinpah collaborator Warren Oates.

There's another handful of Oates (sorry: bad pun) over at The Phantom Country: a review of Susan Compo's biography, and an awesome review of Peckinpah's weirdest movie which boasts probably the best pullquote in the history of blogging: 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia: male virility as phantom presence in Peckinpah's wounded, insane sort of masterpiece'.

Sam Wilson reviews Sam Peckinpah over at Mondo 70: his piece on 'Cross of Iron' is objective and well-considered.

The irrepressible Jeremy at Moon in the Gutter writes about "Peckinpah's forgotten masterpiece", the made-for-TV adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's 'Noon Wine'. He also provides visual appreciations of 'The Ballad of Cable Hogue' and 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia'.

And there's my first musings on Peckinpah's work on this blog: 'Ain't Like It Used To Be - The Cinema of Sam Peckinpah', originally written in April 2008 for Film at 11's American cinema blog-a-thon.

Meanwhile, the first direct contribution to the Peckinpah tribute comes courtesy of that magnificently titled blog Things That Don't Suck: an eloquent and passionate appraisal of 'Ride the High Country'.

16 comments:

The Film Connoisseur said...

Film Education 101 with Neil! Ill be checking out your blog man since I dont know much about Peckinpah except for The Wild Bunch! Which I loved.

Looking forward to it man.

Samuel Wilson said...

Thanks for the plug and the other links, Neil. I look forward to your survey, since Peckinpah is a director whose work looks better to me (with at least one glaring exception) as the years go on.

Evil Dead Junkie said...

Thanks for the link and kind words Neil. I'm psyched for the month!

bill r. said...

You're doing this all month?? Well, that gives me some time, then.

Michaƫl Parent said...

Hi! here's a short essay I wrote in French and English about Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch http://cinephiliaque.blogspot.com/2009/12/wild-bunch-de-sam-peckinpah-peckinpah.html

Thanks will be a nice month remembering these films!

Neil Fulwood said...

Francisco - thanks, hope you enjoy the forthcoming articles. If you love 'The Wild Bunch', then you'll come across many of the themes and concerns of that film scattered throughout Peckinpah's filmography.

Sam - you're welcome. There are very few Peckinpah films that don't repay numerous viewings. I'm just hoping my enthusiasm for this project doesn't start slipping when I get to 'The Killer Elite' or 'Convoy'.

Evil Dead Junkie - thanks for being the first contributor to the Peckinpah marathon. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the much-maligned 'Major Dundee'.

Bill - thanks for visiting, and linking to my blog. Yup, I'm doing this all month, posting every day. Any and all contributions are welcome.

Michael - thanks for contributing. I'll be linking to your 'Wild Bunch' article later today.

Evil Dead Junkie said...

And so you shall!

http://thingthatdontsuck.blogspot.com/2009/12/major-dundee.html

Evil Dead Junkie said...

Once again thanks for doing this. We'll see if I can resist the temptation to write up Pat Garrett for the rest of the month.

Neil Fulwood said...

Thanks for the 'Major Dundee' piece. I like the way you've isolated Dundee as the "odd man out" of Peckinpah's protagonists.

I'll be linking to your article later today.

J.D. said...

I can't wait to see what others are going to do in celebration of Peckinpah. I am hard at work on my contribution.

Neil: Here's another link for ya - a great take on BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA:

http://christiandivine.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/forgotten-films-bring-me-the-head-of-alfredo-garcia-1974/

Neil Fulwood said...

Looking forward to your contribution, JD.

Thanks for the link as well - damn good article!

Troy Olson said...

I didn't write any of this, so don't think I'm trying to take credit, but one of the best overviews of Peckinpah and his films was written at the now defunct online magazine The High Hat.

http://www.thehighhat.com/Nitrate/002/peckinpah_intro.html

Some great stuff there.

Looking forward to what everyone writes!

Neil Fulwood said...

Thanks for the link, Troy. Some good stuff there.

mike siegel said...

Hi Neil
& hello from a fellow Peckinpah-fan. I'll follow your blog! Great !Over here in Germany we'll have among other little events a 'theatrical' Peckinpah night in Bochum in January: we'll screen CROSS OF IRON (great 35mm print)and my PASSION & POETRY (just released on DVD, check DVDtimes for a review).
Do you guys know our new Peckinpah-forum already? www.earnedinblood.com

Neil Fulwood said...

Hi, Mike. Thanks for stopping by and leaving the comment. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for 'Passion and Poetry' on DVD, and I'll be linking to the forum in a future article.

Would you be interested in writing a piece on the Peckinpah night in Bochum or the background to 'Passion and Poetry'? If so, I'd love to feature it as part of this month's Peckinpah celebration on my blog.

My email is slainte@inbox.com if you want to get in touch.

Regards,

Neil

Tommy Salami said...

You inspired me to review The Killer Elite, one of his least beloved films:

http://www.pluckyoutoo.com/2009/12/killer-elite.html

He's one of my favorite directors, from the oppressive nihilism of "Alfredo" to the sentimentality of Cable Hogue...