The Wild Bunch

The American Classic That Changed Westerns Forever

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About the Book

One of the most controversial films of its time, The Wild Bunch is the epitome of the no-holds-barred filmmaking of the 1960s and 1970s. Since its 1969 release, it has come to be recognized not only as an iconic Western, but as one of the most important films in the American cinematic canon.
Over the years a parade of filmmakers have tried to imitate its gut-punch effects but none have equaled it. The Wild Bunch revived the floundering career of volatile, self-destructive director Sam Peckinpah—it also hung on him the label “Bloody Sam.” This book tells the complete story of the film’s production, reception and legacy.

About the Author(s)

Bill Mesce, Jr., is an adjunct instructor at several New Jersey universities and colleges, and an author, screenwriter, and playwright. He lives in Linden, New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

Bill Mesce, Jr.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 213
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, appendices, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7746-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3800-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
One. A Perfect Storm—the 1960s 7
Two. Enter—and Exit—Sam Peckinpah 26
Three. A Giant Departs, an Opportunity Opens 39
Four. Hollywood’s West 43
Five. Sires 55
Six. Peckinpah’s Bunch 70
Seven. Mexico Lindo 90
Eight. Missing Pieces 98
Nine. The Wild Bunch 106
Ten. Undying Echoes and Dying Fires 116
Eleven. A Moment Come and Gone 131
Epilogue: Riding into the Light 145
Appendix A: The Wild Bunch Production Credits 153
Appendix B: The Songs 159
Appendix C: A Collage of Reviews 163
Appendix D: Film Critic Stephen Whitty on The Wild Bunch 167
Appendix E: Reviewer and Pay-TV Film Programmer Youssef Kdiry—Meditations on The Wild Bunch 169
Appendix F: Film Critic Brian Marks on The Wild Bunch—Starting at the End 173
Appendix G: Author David L. Robbins on The Wild Bunch 175
Appendix H: The Stock Company 179
Appendix I: Sam Peckinpah Filmography 181
Bibliography 187
Index 195

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Mesce succinctly views Peckinpah as the ‘right man in the right place and the right time’ to make this classic, perfectly analyzing the core of what made ‘The Wild Bunch’ a moving classic.”—Western Clippings
  • “A breezy, intensely-researched celebration of Peckinpah’s landmark movie…valuable…. Mesce provides some interesting new insights. Additionally, he does not limit himself to only this specific movie. Rather, he discusses how it fits into Peckinpah’s overall career and analyzes his previous and subsequent works in an honest manner that neither vilifies or idolizes the mercurial filmmaker…highly recommended.”—Cinema Retro