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Peckinpah Today

New Essays on the Films of Sam Peckinpah

Edited by Michael Bliss

Publication Year: 2012

Written exclusively for this collection by today’s leading Peckinpah critics, the nine essays in Peckinpah Today explore the body of work of one of America’s most important filmmakers, revealing new insights into his artistic process and the development of his lasting themes. Edited by Michael Bliss, this book provides groundbreaking criticism of Peckinpah’s work by illuminating new sources, from modified screenplay documents to interviews with screenplay writers and editors.

Included is a rare interview with A. S. Fleischman, author of the screenplay for The Deadly Companions, the film that launched Peckinpah’s career in feature films. The collection also contains essays by scholar Stephen Prince and Paul Seydor, editor of the controversial special edition of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In his essay on Straw Dogs, film critic Michael Sragow reveals how Peckinpah and co-scriptwriter David Zelag Goodman transformed a pulp novel into a powerful film. The final essay of the collection surveys Peckinpah’s career, showing the dark turn that the filmmaker’s artistic path took between his first and last films. This comprehensive approach reinforces the book’s dawn-to-dusk approach, resulting in a fascinating picture of a great filmmaker’s work.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. c-ii

Book Title

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p. iii-iii


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pp. iv-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction: Times Maybe, Not Them—The Enduring Value of Sam Peckinpah’s Films

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pp. 1-5

Toward the beginning of Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, the following exchange takes place.
Billy: Sheriff Pat Garrett. Sold out to the Santa Fe Ring. How does it feel?
Garrett: It feels like—times have changed.
Billy: Times maybe. Not me....

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The Deadly Companions Revisited

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pp. 6-35

Over the quarter century since his death, Sam Peckinpah’s reputation has evolved out of critical acclaim for eight of his fourteen features. By general consensus, his best work can be seen in the exceptional Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Straw Dogs,...

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Martyred Slaves of Time: Age, Regret, and Transcendence in The Wild Bunch

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pp. 36-44

Sam Peckinpah once said, “Men who have lived out of their times—that’s a thing that ends with me with Cable Hogue.”1 But the director could no more abjure that concern than he could change his artistic orientation. Growing up in the high country, surrounded by a family steeped in the...

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The Ballad of Divine Retribution

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pp. 45-68

Revenge sells. Such tales have enjoyed broad popularity almost since the origins of storytelling. Perceived indignities within daily life mount and unanswered insults accumulate, priming us to take pleasure in practically anyone else who wrests from his or her transgressors a satisfaction...

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From The Siege of Trencher’s Farm to Straw Dogs: The Narrative Brilliance of Sam Peckinpah

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pp. 69-81

Sam Peckinpah clawed his way into movie history as a multileveled visual poet, an instinctive trailblazer, and the last great filmmaker to bring direct knowledge of the Old West to the Western genre. Yet beyond his revolutionary editing techniques and sensuous slow-motion violence, beyond even...

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The Recutting of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid: Ethical Problems in Film Restoration

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pp. 82-100

Sam Peckinpah knew about outside editors coming in at the behest of studios to work changes on his films. Columbia Pictures reedited Major Dundee (1965), removing copious amounts of Peckinpah’s footage. Warner Bros. removed the flashback sequences and other material from The Wild...

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The Authentic Death and Contentious Afterlife of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid: The Several Versions of Peckinpah’s Last Western

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pp. 101-136

It began inconspicuously over thirty years ago:

Three cut scenes—Garrett with his wife, Garrett and Chisum, and Billy courting Maria—and several minor excisions were restored to the version on television. . . . Unfortunately, the frame story is still missing, and so much else is either altered or missing . . . that the only...

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Human Striving, Human Strife: Sam Peckinpah and the Journey of the Soul

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pp. 137-146

Savagery, rage, violence: these are words, themes, that you expect to encounter in discussions of Sam Peckinpah. They testify to power, impact, uncomfortable reception. But would his work have touched so many people so deeply if these words were adequate descriptions of its nature?...

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Peckinpah’s Last Testament: The Osterman Weekend

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pp. 147-163

Most critics usually regard Sam Peckinpah’s last film as a disappointing conclusion to his cinematic legacy. Biographer David Weddle describes it as a work where “one had to squint hard to spot the traces of a once-great talent” and as “a pretentious, hopelessly muddled potboiler with...

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Dawn and Dusk

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pp. 164-186

The Deadly Companions and The Osterman Weekend are respectively the first attempt and the ultimate work of an eventful cinematographic career, filled with masterpieces (Ride the High Country, Straw Dogs, The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Cross of Iron) and punctuated by...


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pp. 187-190


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pp. 191-192


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pp. 193-196

Back Cover

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p. bc-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9780809331079
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809331062

Publication Year: 2012