Sunday, December 19, 2010
#7: The Wild Bunch
If they move, kill 'em, thus begins The Wild Bunch. Freeze frame as a sketch of William Holden's face takes over the screen and the music peaks. Riveting !
William Holden as Pike and Ernest Borgnine as Dutch strike you instantly as characters with a mission with guns.Yet one can't help but feel a certain sympathy for them inspite of them being shown as outlaws. As the movie progresses, you come to know of the good times Pike has been through and how he fell through with Deke Thornton played by Robert Ryan. Little incidents etched in the past are shown to the viewer through a simple yet hugely effective screenplay which make you come closer to Pike and his team.
Based on the tempting premise of 'one last score', you certainly wish Pike and his team get to retire with enough money on their hand because Pike is essentially not a bad guy - he's just someone who wants to make a living and the only way he knows is to use his gun. Age though is catching up with him - one particularly poignant scene is the one where Pike rides on after falling off his horse leading his comrades to comment - 'How could you side with anyone, if you can't even ride a horse.' It is a scene beautifully crafted to show Pike's declining aura and ability yet you know that Pike won't ditch on his friends.
The movie from there on is an interplay of Deke chasing Pike and his gang and how Pike strikes a deal with a Mexican warlord for that one last score. It is not apparent at any point of time as to who will have the last laugh as director Sam Peckinpah gives that showdown a nice balance.
The Wild Bunch is considered to be a classic western movie because of it's relevance to the era of 1910s it is supposed to be set in. What I found immensely interesting is this movie is unlike a lot of caper movies where the gang falls out after the loot is captured, this is one movie - where the gang stays loyal to each other. The camaraderie between the robbers is so rare and so special. A noteworthy performance is that of Sykes played by Edmond O' Brien, the affable robber who can dissolve any heated situation with a light-hearted comment. It's the depth of such characters that make the Wild Bunch the enigmatic classic that it's come to be known as. It is indeed a fine fine western.