The Essential Movie Library #77: The Wild Bunch (1969) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #77: The Wild Bunch (1969)

William Holden leads his gang of desperadoes deeper into a no-man’s land that doesn’t care if it’s America or Mexico but just knows it’s the West, half a planet away World War I is going on

The thing that’s hard to remember about this classic Western even after you’ve seen it many times is that, as William Holden leads his gang of desperadoes deeper into a no-man’s land that doesn’t care if it’s America or Mexico but just knows it’s the West, half a planet away World War I is going on. People are shooting each other down in airplanes. The movies are being invented; somewhere Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation plays and Charlie Chaplin already is the first superstar of the modern age. And if we forget this, Holden and company profess to never have remembered it in the first place, while at the same time the civilization they deny, with its hypocrisies they detest, is always shadowing them.

They might think of themselves as the Last Gasp Gang if they could only determine what it’s all a last gasp for. They would answer that it’s all for a life they love beyond reason when the truth may be that it’s really for an oblivion that offers the only version of peace their untamed psyches can accommodate. When Holden finally says to his men, “Let’s go”—the distraction of drinking and whoring exhausted and the time to make things right with the comrade left behind at hand (to whatever extent that’s possible)—he is announcing that this is the afternoon to die. Warren Oates answers, “Why not?” It’s the great question of all director Sam Peckinpah’s great films, including Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Essential Movie Library #57), and the answer isn’t the point, because there is none. The point is the asking.

Read them all:

The Essential Movie Library #76: Barton Fink
The Essential Movie Library #75: The Spirit of the Beehive
The Essential Movie Library #74: Sexy Beast
The Essential Movie Library #73: Groundhog Day
The Essential Movie Library #72: Rear Window
The Essential Movie Library #71: The 400 Blows
The Essential Movie Library #70: Blue Velvet
The Essential Movie Library #69: Dr. Strangelove
The Essential Movie Library #68: The Bicycle Thieves
The Essential Movie Library #67: Pulp Fiction
The Essential Movie Library #66: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
The Essential Movie Library #65: Caché
The Essential Movie Library #64: A Hard Day's Night
The Essential Movie Library #63: The Searchers
The Essential Movie Library #62: The Conformist
The Essential Movie Library #61: Bonnie & Clyde
The Essential Movie Library #60: Sweet Smell of Success
The Essential Movie Library #59: Melancholia
The Essential Movie Library #58: La Dolce Vita
The Essential Movie Library #57: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Essential Movie Library #56: Contempt
The Essential Movie Library #55: Sunset Boulevard
The Essential Movie Library #54: Metropolis
The Essential Movie Library #53: In A Lonely Place
The Essential Movie Library #52: Talk to Her
The Essential Movie LIbrary #51: To Be or Not To Be
The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers
The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2
The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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