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Author Topic: Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)  (Read 18744 times)
cigar joe
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« on: September 27, 2012, 06:13:58 PM »

Time to start a proper thread, Dir. Sam Peckinpah and starring Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Robert Webber, Gig Young, Emilio Fernandez, Helmut Dantine, Kris Kristofferson, Chano Urueta, & Funky Donnie Fritts

Peckinpah's Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) updates Film Noir's obsessed looser and alienated anti-hero from the traditions of Huston's "Treasure of the Sierra Madre", Bogart's "Casablanca", Mitchum's mercenary in Mexico flicks, Sergio Leone's "Dollars trilogy", and re-incarnates him as "Bennie" a decadent, gonzo, sleaze-ball piano-player/tourist clip-joint bar owner cum looser, on a quest for a $10,000 bounty on the head of an old acquaintance. The quest that becomes a spiral into Noir madness. -----

A family scandal (a unwed pregnant daughter) causes a wealthy and powerful Mexican rancher (Fernandez) to make the pronouncement--'Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!' Causing a flurry of activity. Two of the bounty-hunters dispatched Robert Webber and Gig Young encounter a local piano-player Bennie (Oates) in their hunt for information. The piano-player does a little investigating on his own and finds out that his hooker girlfriend Elita (Vega) knows of Garcia's death and last resting place. Thinking that he can make some easy money and gain financial security for he and his (now) fiancée, they set off on this goal. ------

You just feel, after watching this, that all the over extravagant Hollywood versions of expat Americans in far off lands and their bars/nightclubs are way way too antiseptic and safe and the women in them way too virginal. This film made between the end of the Hayes Code and before PC hits the nail on the head. You get a feeling that this was more like it would have been. -----

Peckinpah's twisted take on Rick's Place in "Casablanca", Bennie's Tlaquepaque tourist bar sequence. Bennie in control perched back against the wall playing the piano singing the tourists out and watching the impeccably dressed Sappensly(Webber) and Quill (Young) enter and question his cartoonishly costumed staff and watching their reactions to the photo of Alfredo. Bennie in total control "First drinks on the house, gentlemen" calling them over to see what they want, waiter arrives and Bennie saying to Paulo "take care of those gentlemen" giving the cue signal, prompting his bar crew into what looks like a well rehearsed course of action, the two whores arrive one for arm of each hit man. The first hint of trouble registering when he asks Sappensly and Quill "something for the ladies" implying they buy the whores a drink and Quill replies "burro piss".

Bennie


Sappensly(Webber) and Quill (Young)

The Hookers
-----

What Eastwood & Leone did for "Joe, Manco & Blondie" in the "Dollars trilogy"... an unshaven face, a squint, a cigar, and a poncho. Peckinpah & Oates do for a hard drinking "Bennie", a bell-bottomed leisure suited mustachioed, small timer club owner wearing a ridiculously large pair of shades, that manage too look very cool. Think of a cross of between a lounge lizard and a used car salesman. A Tom Waits who's also surprisingly, very good with a pistol, on a bargain basement quest for a bit of immortality. Benny can be elevated to the Pantheon of Anti-Heroes.

No product placement here, instead of a horse, Bennie's pimp mobile of choice is what-else man...., a beat to sh*t mid 60's, oil burnnin', red Chey Impala convertible that's seen way better days, and leaves a contrail of blue smoke as it barrels Benny down the black tops and dirt tracks of rural Mexico straight down on a decent into hell.

60's Chey Impala


What really elevates this film are the Mexican locations, the writing (the high points being Bennie's and Elita's tragic love story, Oates' one liners, and the absolutely from the heart great dialog's that ring true and are unforgettable) and finally Oates' & Vega's acting.

Oates & Vega




Its got a lot of references to Film Noir and Spaghetti Western iconography, that cinematic memory magic, is working in this flick, so any Western & Neo Noir aficionados will feel right at home in this updated version of the Noir Film soleil/Western. There are enough plot twists, bizarre and surreal situations that any David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Cohen Brothers fans will get a kick out of this film too, Bravo!

Alfredo Garcia
 

Mexica Standoff
----- ---

GUTS

You've either got them, or you don't.

Sam Peckinpah had the guts to bring a
new kind of violent reality to the screen in
The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs.
He's been praised and panned, awarded
and attacked. And he's kept on making
his kind of movies, his way.

His newest, set in modern-day Mexico, is a
story of violence and greed and revenge. . .
and love and courage and loyalty. It tells of
a desperate man risking everything on a
last, desperate chance. . . and a much-used
woman accepting lust only to discover love.

It's bound to provoke controversy. . .
cheered by some as a new classic in the
mold of "Treasure of Sierra Madre" . . .cursed
by others as a bloody and brutal hymn to
machismo. On one point, all can agree.
Like its maker, Sam Peckinpah,
Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia
is uncompromising, unyielding, uncensored.

In short, it's got guts
.(from a poster)

Bennie in action


So I brought this down a few years ago to my old high school buddy who lives in East Atlantic Beach on Long Beach Island and it litterally blew him away. He couldn't stop talking about how you never see films like this anymore and how things have gotten too PC. It was as if he'd been sleep walking through the last 30 years and had forgotten how different films used to be.

<spoilers>

He kept mentioning how you'd never see a scene like the "Bennie discovers he got the crabs after sleeping with Elita" sequence or the hero driving a beatup piece of crap Chevy, or the hero looking like Warren Oates for that matter. His wife just cracked up over the "turning Elita around so she can sleep eternally with the headless Al" grave sequence.

It was great seeing the light go on in his head. Try it out sometime.

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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2012, 06:35:17 PM »

It's all right. As divisive a movie as it is it didn't really make much impression on me. My strongest memory is Isela Vega's nude scenes.

« Last Edit: September 27, 2012, 08:38:41 PM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2012, 05:05:52 AM »

I'll repeat what I said to d&d watch again when you are older. Currently on TCM there is a spot running on Bacall with Kelsey Grammer droning on about the chemistry  between Bacall and Bogart in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep he illustrates this with this bit of dialog from The Big Sleep

Vivian: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they're front runners or comefrom behind, find out what their whole card is, what makes them run.
Marlowe: Find out mine?
Vivian: I think so.
Marlowe: Go ahead.
Vivian: I'd say you don't like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.
Marlowe: You don't like to be rated yourself.
Vivian: I haven't met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?
Marlowe: Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but I don't know how, how far you can go.
Vivian: A lot depends on who's in the saddle.


It sounds so scripted compared to the dysfunctional and very believable dialog between Bennie and Elita. It is part of the magic of the film as a whole if don't relate to it you are missing a key ingredient.  

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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2012, 05:29:42 AM »

Highlights from past posts-----grandpa_chum
   
   
Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2006, 11:43:16 PM »         
My horrible review of the film I posted on another site(it's hard for me to be articulate when talking about a movie I'm so excited about)... btw, i believe it's the best film of all time... oh and add the wonderful use of day-for-night cemetary footage to the similarities/inspirations with/of leone.

This is most definitely the darkest film ever made and it shouldn't go without saying that it's got a lot in common with my favorite book, moby dick, one of the darkest ever written. Warren Oates has maybe the best performance I've ever witnessed. He plays a man that falls in love with a whore, ruins her, rises from the grave, goes mad with obsession over a head, talks to a rotting head in a bloody bag, asks it questions, kills at least a dozen men and succeeds willing each death with his desperation, makes a choice and never turns back, and goes has no escape from life. I have to agree with the gentlemen who did the commentary on the dvd, benny grieves much longer than any other character in cinema. Usually the hero grieves for a moment, declares his method of revenge and goes on with it. Benny, however, slowly and painfully slips into hatred and aggression towards the obsession that ruined what little life he had left and is willed into deadly action by his desperation. This film has the essential no way out theme, there is no point in the movie for a good hour leading up to it's finale that the viewer can think to themselves "why doesn't he just (blank) and get away", there simply is no choice to be made but his decline into absolute despair. Peckinpah shooting a tragedy in the 'real' unpolished Mexico, smoking barrels, whole families blown away, buried alive, rising from the grave, no way out, and a whole lot of the darkest comedy you will ever see. The scenes in the graveyard, where everything that sets the second half of the film up happens, is so good and so daunting that I thought it couldn't possibly get any better than this, this has to be the bread and butter of the film. Benny is ambushed and left for dead half-buried alive and what directly follows is some of the most disturbing stuff I've ever seen. Well what follows the most-disturbing stuff is a no-way-out rambling road trip into despair that darkly mocks a 70's buddy movie(remember he talks to the rotting fly-ridden head in the bloody bag). Every second from the graveyard on is gripping, dark, funny, disturbing, and wholly expected at the same time. No one could have done such an anti-hollywood dirty, dark, and depressing film better than Peckinpah, and no one has since nor probably ever will.

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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #40 on: October 02, 2006, 09:46:01 AM »
         
Just recently came across Roger Ebert's take on this film. He goes on and on about it, it's obviously one of his faves. He actually has some insightful things to say, for once.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20011028/REVIEWS08/110280301/1023

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Release Date: 1974
By Roger Ebert Oct 28, 2001

I think I can feel Sam Peckinpah's heart beating and head pounding in every frame in ''Bring Me the
Head of Alfredo Garcia'' (1974), a film he made during a period of alcoholic fear and trembling. I believe
its hero, Bennie, completes his task with the same dogged courage as Peckinpah used to complete the
movie, and that Bennie's exhaustion, disgust and despair at the end might mirror Peckinpah's own. I
sense that the emotional weather on the set seeped onto the screen, haunting it with a buried level of
passion. If there is anything to the auteur theory, then ''Alfredo Garcia'' is the most autobiographical film
Peckinpah ever made.

The film was reviled when it was released. The reviews went beyond hatred into horror. It was grotesque,
sadistic, irrational, obscene and incompetent, wrote Joy Gould Boyum in the Wall Street Journal. It was
a catastrophe, said Michael Sragow in New York magazine. ''Turgid melodrama at its worst,'' said
Variety. Martin Baum, the producer, recalled a sneak preview with only 10 people left in the theater at
the end: ''They hated it! Hated it!''

I gave it four stars and called it ''some kind of bizarre masterpiece.'' Now I approach it again after 27
years, and find it extraordinary, a true and heartfelt work by a great director who endured despite, or
perhaps because of, the demons that haunted him. Courage usually feels good in the movies, but it
comes in many moods, and here it feels bad but necessary, giving us a hero who is heartbreakingly
human--a little man determined to accomplish his mission in memory of a woman he loved, and in truth
to his own defiant code.

The film stars Warren Oates (1928-1982), that sad-faced, gritty actor with the crinkled eyes, as a forlorn
piano player in a Mexican brothel--an American at a dead end. When a powerful Mexican named El Jefe
(Emilio Fernandez) discovers that his daughter is pregnant, he commands, ''bring me the head of Alfredo
Garcia,'' and so large is the reward he offers that two bounty hunters (Gig Young and Robert Webber)
come into the brothel looking for Alfredo, and that is how Bennie finds out about the head. He knows
that a prostitute named Elita (Isela Vega) was once sweet on Alfredo, and he discovers that the man is
already dead.

He and Elita love each other, in the desperate fashion of two people who see no other chance of survival.
He needs money to escape from the trap he is in. He will dig up the body, steal the head, deliver it to El
Jefe, and then he and Elita will live happily ever after--a prospect they honor but do not believe in. During
Bennie's odyssey across the dusty roads of Mexico, many will die, and the head, carried in a gunny
sack, will develop a foul odor and attract a blanket of flies. But it represents Bennie's fortune, and he will
die to defend it.  (pt 1)

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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2012, 05:30:34 AM »

(pt 2)
The parallels with ''Treasure of the Sierra Madre'' are obvious, starting with broken-down barfly down on
his luck, and when Gig Young's character says his name is ''Fred C. Dobbs,'' the name of Bogart's
character in ''Treasure,'' it's a wink from Peckinpah. Dobbs is finally defeated, and so is Bennie, but
Bennie at least goes out on his own terms, even though his life spirals down into proof that the world is
a rotten place and has no joy for Bennie.

''Alfredo Garcia'' is a mirror image of formula movies where the hero goes on the road on a personal
mission. The very reason for wanting Alfredo Garcia's head--revenge--is moot because Garcia is already
dead. By the end, Bennie identifies with the head, talks to ''Al,'' acknowledges that Al was the true love
of Elita's life, and puts the stinking head under a shower where once he sat on the floor and watched

Elita, and tells it, ''a friend of ours tried to take a shower in there.''

The sequences do not flow together, they bang together, daily trials under the scorching sun. Of all the
extraordinary scenes in the film, the best is the one where Bennie and Elita pull off the road for a picnic,
and talk long and softly, tenderly, to each other. Kris Kristofferson, who plays a biker who interrupts this
scene, recalled years later that it was supposed to end with Bennie confessing he had never thought of
asking Elita to marry him. ''But the scene didn't stop there,'' he told Garner Simmons, author of
Peckinpah: A Portrait in Montage ''She [Vega] didn't stop. She says, 'Well, ask me.' And he says,
'What?' And she says, 'To marry you.' And I swear to God, Warren just looked like every other guy
who's ever been confronted like that. But he didn't break character. He says, 'Will you marry me?' And
then she starts crying. And every time I saw it, it broke me up. Warren said to me: 'I just knew there
was no place to hide in that scene. She had me, and I was cryin', too.' ''

Then the two bikers appear, and the one played by Kristofferson intends to rape Elita. She knows
Bennie has a concealed gun but the bikers are dangerous and she tells the man who has just proposed
to her not to risk his life, because, as a prostitute, ''I been here before and you don't know the way.'' It is
the sad poetry of that line that expresses Peckinpah's vision, in which people find the courage to do
what they must do in a world with no choices.

The film's screenplay and story, by Peckinpah, Gordon T. Dawson and Frank Kowalski, has other
dialogue as simple, direct and sad. When Elita questions the decision to cut off Garcia's head, Bennie
tells her, ''There's nothing sacred about a hole in the ground or the man that's in it--or you, or me.'' And
then he says, ''The church cuts off the toes and fingers and every other damn thing--they're saints. Well,
Alfredo is our saint.'' Later, there is a hint of Shakespeare, even, in Bennie's remark to the sack: ''You
got jewels in your ears, diamonds up your nose.''

The thing is, Oates and Vega are so tired and sweet and utterly without movie-actor affect in this film.
They seem worn out and hopeless. These are holy performances. Maybe the conditions of the shoot,
and the director's daily personal ordeal, wore them down, and that informed their work. David Weddle,
who wrote a book on Peckinpah named If They move ... Kill 'Em!, quotes Gordon Dawson as a daily
witness on the location. Dawson had worked with Peckinpah many times before but refused to ever
work with him again: ''He really lost it on 'Alfredo.' It tore my heart right out.''

Peckinpah was a tragic drunk, and booze killed him in 1984, at 59. When I visited the Durango, Mexico
set of his ''Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid'' (1973), he sat in a chair under an umbrella, his drink in his
hand, and murmured his instructions to an assistant. ''The studio screwed him so thoroughly on that
picture that he got sick,'' Kristofferson told me. ''There were days when he couldn't raise himself up from
his chair.'' When Peckinpah visited Chicago to promote ''Alfredo Garcia,'' he sat in a darkened hotel
room, wearing dark glasses, hung over, whispering, and I remembered that in the movie Bennie even
wears his dark glasses to bed.

Booze destroyed Peckinpah's life, but in this film, I believe, it allowed him, or forced him, to escape from
the mindless upbeat formulas of the male action picture, and to send Bennie down a road on which, no
matter how bad a man feels, he finishes his job. Some days on the set there must not have been a
dime's worth of difference between Peckinpah and Bennie.

Sam Peckinpah directed ''The Wild Bunch'' (1969), the best Western I have seen, and he brought in a lot
of box office money in a career that included ''Straw Dogs'' and ''The Getaway.'' He came up as a writer
on TV Westerns, starting with ''Gunsmoke'' in 1955, and in his earliest Western as a director, ''Ride the
High Country'' (1962), he starred the old-timers Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea in a story of two
professionals hired to do a job. ''The Wild Bunch'' was also about aging men whose loyalty was to one
another and not to society.

A real director is at his best when he works with material that reflects his own life patterns. At a film
festival, after ''Pat Garrett'' had become the latest of his films to be emasculated by a studio, he was
asked if he would ever make a ''pure Peckinpah'' and he replied, ''I did 'Alfredo Garcia' and I did it exactly
the way I wanted to. Good or bad, like it or not, that was my film.

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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2012, 05:34:53 AM »

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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #67 on: October 20, 2006, 03:59:00 PM »         
What that first half has is a ton of atmosphere, thats a major part of the magic of the film, its not your run of the mill action flick but more of a road picture gone very surreally wrong. That was the pleasant surprise for me that it wasn't non stop action.

I could easily lap up another hour of decadence and decay, this film rolls in it like a dog rolls in dead things, give me more Mexican tourist trap dives, crumbling beauties, beat to sh*t Chevys, and sleazeballs galore.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------tucumcari bound
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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #81 on: July 23, 2007, 09:21:27 PM »         
cigar. Wow, I am so happy you made a thread about this. It's one of my favorite films of all time. It's a bloody brilliant MASTERPIECE. It was Sam Peckinpah's F U to Hollywood. That's what they call it. It's a personal story from SAM. This was a time in his life that he was struggling with alcohol and was not happy but what he produced under these conditions is aboslutely mind blowing. Nobody should miss this one, especially if you're a fan of Sam or even the western genre. It's another western disguised as an urban tale. The film opens up and you think it's a full blown western set in the 1800's!

Also, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is heavely influenced by This great film.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Jill
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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #85 on: July 24, 2007, 02:36:53 AM »         
It's in my top 3 Peckinpah films. Warren Oates just ROCKS. And I love it - a very Sam-ishg massacre... madness... paranoia...  

I feel Melquiades Estrada is very like to this movie. Like they were brothers. I'll like to see them in a double-pack dvd - two masterpieces...--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------tucumcari bound
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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #102 on: August 10, 2007, 09:55:01 AM »         
Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) 10/10

I had to bring this back out after cigar started a thread about it. I got excited in seeing it again. The film just gets better and better with repeated viewings. Warren Oates is AWESOME in this film, period. Another reason why I regard him as a legend.

How can you not love the quotes as well...

"You guys are definitely on my shit list!"

"I've been no place I wanna go back to, that's for damn sure."

"Listen. The church cuts off the feet, fingers, any other goddamn thing from the saints, don't they? Well, what the hell? Alfredo's our saint. He's the saint of our money, and I'm gonna borrow a piece of him."

"a double bourbon with a champagne back, none of your tijano bullshit, and fuck off."


hahaha classic.

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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 05:50:15 AM »

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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #112 on: October 03, 2007, 04:27:05 AM »        
Absolutely great. All in it what we love in ol' Sam. Blood, violence, surrealism, lyrism (I dunno if this word exists), madness...

We can watch it too as an allegory about him. In a documentary they said Oates was playing in fact Sam.   He had a lot of trouble with the studio bosses. In PG&BtK he sold himself and killed his dreams of youth. In this he says something like this: 'Ya know what, SOBs? F*** you and die!' And his alterego kills them all.  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------mike siegel
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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #113 on: October 03, 2007, 08:48:53 AM »        
When Peckinpah was asked why he did choose to make films like STRAW DOGS, GETAWAY, CROSS OF IRON...
he always replied 'I never chose anything, those were all jobs - and I try to do the best of it (he did, my hero).
The only thing I chose was ALFREDO GARCIA..'

After the PAT GARRETT nightmare it was like vacation for him: small budget (no big risks), in Mexico with his friends (and without a studio... It was the 'little film' John Ford once advised film makers should make between big productions.
Warren Oates plays Sam by the way. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------mike siegel
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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #125 on: October 11, 2010, 02:05:55 AM »        
Actually the only film Sam really considered to be his own project.
Most people think that most of his films were his first choice, yet
they weren't. In the process he made them 'Peckinpah-films',
but GARCIA was the only one he really wanted to make - he even
made it low-budget on produced himself.
Of course it flopped -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2012, 05:51:34 AM »

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Re: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« Reply #89 on: July 24, 2007, 09:22:39 AM »         
dave jenkins. I'll just list the review here for everyone. Great read!


Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia * * * * 4 stars.


BY ROGER EBERT
August 1, 1974
 

Sam Peckinpah's "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" is a weird, horrifying film that somehow transcends its unlikely material. It's the story of a drunken and violent odyssey across Mexico by a dropout bartender who, if he returns Alfredo Garcia's head, stands to be paid a million dollars. The head accompanies him in a burlap bag, tossed into the front seat of a beat-up old Ford convertible, and it gathers flies and symbolic meaning at about the same pace.

The movie is some kind of bizarre masterpiece. It's probably not a movie that most people would like, but violence, with Peckinpah, sometimes becomes a psychic ballet. His characters don't look for it, they don't like it, and they negotiate it with weariness and resignation. They're too beat up by life to get any kind of exhilaration from a fight. They've been in far too many fights already, and lost most of them, and the violence they encounter is just another cross to bear.

That's the case with Bennie, the antihero of "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia." He's played by Warren Oates, one of that breed of movie actors who attract us, somehow, through their negative qualities. He's like some of the characters played by Jack Nicholson or Bruce Dern; we like him because he's suffered so much more than we ever will (we hope) that no matter what horrors he goes through, or inflicts, we still care about him.

Bennie is a bartender and plays a little piano, and he hears about the head of Alfredo Garcia from a couple of bounty hunters who pass through his saloon. They're played, by the way, by the unlikely team of Gig Young and Robert Webber, who between them define dissipation. Garcia's head is worth a million bucks because Garcia, it turns out, has impregnated the daughter of a rich Mexican industrialist. The millionaire is almost a caricature of macho compulsiveness; he simultaneously puts a price on the head of the culprit, and looks forward with pride to the birth of a grandson.

Bennie sees the million dollars as his ticket out of hell, and on the way to finding it he runs across Alfredo Garcia's former lover, Elita (Isela Vega, looking as moistly erotic as anyone since young Anna Magnani). They fall in love, or something; their relationship is complicated by Bennie's crude shyness and her own custom of being abused by men.

The most perversely interesting relationship in the movie, however, is the friendship that grows between Bennie and Alfredo's head, once Bennie has gotten possession of it. That's made somewhat easier by the fact that Alfredo, it turns out, is already dead. But there is a gruesome struggle over his grave, and once Bennie finally gets the head he has to kill to protect his prize. His drive across Mexico is fueled by blood and tequila, and about halfway through it we realize why Peckinpah set his movie in the present, instead of in the past; this same material wouldn't have worked as a historical Western. The conventions of the genre would have insulated us from the impact of what happens. There would have been horses and watering holes and clichés. Instead, we get unforgettable scenes of Warren Oates with that grisly burlap bag and the bottle next to him in the front seat, and the nakedness of his greed is inescapable.

Somewhere along the way Oates, as Bennie, makes a compact with the prize he begins to call "Al." They both loved the same woman, they are both being destroyed by the same member of an upper class, they're both poor bastards who never asked for their grief in life. And slowly, out of the haze of the booze and the depths of his suffering, Bennie allies himself with Al and against the slob with the money. "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" is Sam Peckinpah making movies flat out, giving us a desperate character he clearly loves, and asking us to somehow see past the horror and the blood to the sad poem he's trying to write about the human condition. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------cigar joe
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« Reply #127 on: October 13, 2010, 07:16:20 AM »         
More impressions and points to ponder. Also need some translations.

First it would be nice to know what Emilio Fernández, El Jefe is saying/reading as his daughter is brought into the great hall. Is it a family service with him presiding or something else? It would be nice to get a translation and an insight on this.

Did you ever notice during the introduction sequence of  Sappensly and Quill, just before Max arrives, Sappensly snaps his fingers at some hotel staff to get them on their feet. So does this imply that Sappensly and Quill have a legit cover as hoteliers who happen to be also be professional bounty hunters?

Once you know of the homosexual relationship between Sappensly and Quill it gives you a heightened foreboding feeling. It makes them even more dangerous realizing that they are really looking out for each other and not just professionally.

Watch this in repeated viewings with the above in mind and thinking of  Peckinpah's twisted take on Rick's Place in "Casablanca",  Bennie's Tlaquepaque tourist bar sequence. Bennie in control perched back against the wall playing the piano singing the tourists out and watching the impeccably dressed Sappensly and Quill enter and question his cartoonishly costumed staff and watching their reactions to the photo of Alfredo. Bennie in total control "First drinks on the house, gentlemen"  calling them over to see what they want, waiter arrives and Bennie saying to Paulo "take care of those gentlemen" giving the cue signal, prompting his bar crew into what looks like a well rehearsed course of action, the two whores arrive one for arm of each hit man.  The first hint of trouble registering when he asks Sappensly and Quill "something for the ladies" implying they buy the whores a drink and Quill replies "burro piss". Watch Sappensly display discomfort and his look of disgust at Quill, and Quill's disapproving glance at his lap and the at the whore stroking Sappensly's tubesteak, and then once Sappensly knocks her out the side show stops the other patrons about the piano exit and all pretense is gone, all normal scenarios go right out the window.

Bennie is face to face with serious trouble but he continues to try and remain cool babbling small talk until Quill asks him point blank if he "knows a lot of studs around here" with a sheepish grin. Now, just what is Quill implying with that double edged question, and Quill kind of reinforces his innuendo's, during his description of Al "he's quite the ladies man, his name is Alfredo Garcia, maybe you can help us find him, about thirty, sometimes he calls himself Al... Garcia, he speaks English, Spanish, and a little French" , Gill says French with a weird grin while Sappensly sort of chuckles silently are they implying that

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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2012, 05:48:44 PM »

How old you think, 85?

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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2012, 07:57:48 PM »

How old you think, 85?
  divide that by half should be just about right  Cool

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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2012, 08:16:40 PM »

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia ****
BY NICK SCHAGER ON JUNE 22, 2003  

Early on in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, itinerant drunkard Bennie (Warren Oates) tells a villainous employer, "Nobody loses all the time." It's a passionately defiant sentiment, but one that holds no sway in Sam Peckinpah's brazenly ugly masterpiece. People don't win in Peckinpah's world—they grudgingly accept cruelty and accept their violent but inescapable punishment like men. When Bennie's prostitute girlfriend Elita (Isela Vega) is taken at gunpoint by a nefarious biker (played with grungy nonchalance by Kris Kristofferson) who plans to rape her, Bennie promises to kill the man for this heinous crime, to which Elita chastises him: "No you won't, Bennie. I've been here before, and you don't know the way." It's a heartbreaking summation of one woman's life of submission, but also a premonition of Bennie's eventual journey into Hell, which will reinforce a truth he already knows: Everyone gets screwed in the end, and hoping for anything better is the refuge of the foolish and naïve.
For something so bleak, so purposely revolting and unsentimental, there are reservoirs of profound poetry in Alfredo Garcia, the only film that Peckinpah ever considered completely his own. As the director of The Wild Bunch, The Getaway, and Straw Dogs, Peckinpah was known for his hard drinking, stubbornness, and eccentricity; indeed, his life would eventually be decimated by the strain brought about by both his constant battles with the studios who funded (and frequently butchered) his work, and by his uncontrollable thirst for alcohol. Yet for one brief moment in 1974, Peckinpah enjoyed complete creative control, and the result was this magnificently depraved piece d'resistance—a film that repulsed nearly every moviegoer who saw it and solidified his reputation among Hollywood bigwigs as a director incapable of reliably producing mainstream entertainment.
To be certain, enduring two hours of violent degenerates wallowing in their own well-deserved misery was a shocking experience even for '70s audiences enjoying the groundbreaking American cinema of the day. Like few modern films, Alfredo Garcia seems to not only be a product of a director's singular vision, but a virtual window into one man's fractured, tortured soul. It's a film of nihilistic fury and existential dread, in which men and women attempt to escape their miserable condition but, knowing that such dreams will only lead to doom, eventually embrace their lives' dead-end paths. Every exchange between Bennie and Elita is laden with portentous despair, every caress a brief reprieve from acknowledging their aspirations as mere fantasy. Elita, trying to dissuade her lover from his mission, tells Bennie that just being together is enough. Bennie responds by telling her that it takes dinero as well. But neither being together nor obtaining monetary wealth will provide relief from their anguish, and their half-hearted attempts to fool each other into thinking otherwise speaks volumes about the fatalistic aura that hangs over the action like a shroud.
Bennie is a lowlife lounge singer working in a seedy Mexican dive, experiencing life through the filter of a drunken haze and his enormous sunglasses (which he even wears to sleep). He's hired by two businessmen (Robert Webber and Gig Young) to find a lothario named Alfredo Garcia in exchange for $10,000—Alfredo is wanted for knocking up the daughter of a wealthy rancher, who wants his head as proof that he's dead. Peckinpah, using a well-placed Time magazine cover, links these evil corporate wonks with Richard Nixon (one can even spot a caricature of the former commander-in-chief on a faux dollar bill behind Bennie's piano), but Alfredo Garcia is not a political diatribe. Rather, these presidential allusions merely reinforce the director's anti-establishment leanings and general distrust of corporate America. Bennie is the common man disenfranchised by a mainstream capitalist society that seeks the eradication of a rural life that Peckinpah holds dear—just another pawn to be used and abused as the powers-that-be see fit.
In a fortuitous (but painful) twist of fate, Bennie discovers that his paramour Elita was carrying on with the wanted man. Elita tells Bennie that Alfredo is dead, and the two set off in search of his corpse. They find a dust-covered countryside populated by reprobates, renegade bandits, and Alfredo's family, none of whom take too kindly to Bennie's decapitation plans, and what follows is apocalyptic mayhem of the highest order. After Elita is nearly raped and then murdered, and he's left for dead by double-crossing bounty hunters, Bennie strikes up an unlikely friendship with Alfredo's head (which he affectionately dubs "Al"), and strives to redeem himself by placing revenge above greed on his short list of priorities. Then, for all his trouble, he's shot down like a rabid dog.
Peckinpah orchestrates this satanic circus with righteous majesty, embellishing the action with his trademark violence—presented with his usual stunning combination of slow motion, multiple camera angles, and visceral editing—and, unfortunately, his signature misogyny. Yet more so than in any of his other films, Peckinpah reserves no remorse for the men in Alfredo Garcia, all of whom suffer one crippling physical and/or psychological wound after another. Bennie begins a one-sided dialogue with Alfredo's rotting, fly-infested head and, through these conversations (which send the film's perversity quotient into the stratosphere), recognizes the folly of his quest. Desperate for redemption, he douses Alfredo's head in alcohol and, later, places Alfredo's head under the shower in a moment that references an earlier scene with Elita. Water becomes a symbolic cleansing agent, but it cannot change the fact that Elita dies, Alfredo has been reduced to a cranium in a burlap bag, and Bennie has no chance of surviving this ordeal.
At the center of this maelstrom is legendary western icon Warren Oates, whose performance as the film's anti-hero borders on maniacal insanity. The actor uses his creased face, perpetually snarling lips, and slumped, slightly asymmetrical posture to project a terminal world-weariness. His ragged grin as grubby as it is pathetic, Oates seems engaged in an actorly free-for-all in which boundaries regarding moderation and propriety are erected just so they can be gleefully bulldozed. His performance is as compulsively vile as it is brave and compelling, and the fact that it was reportedly based on Peckinpah himself only imbues it with an added layer of foul grandeur. This all turns Bennie's quest for vengeance and salvation into an allegory for the director's own professional battles with Hollywood bureaucracy.
Such decrepit beauty is most powerfully realized during the film's opening scene, in which the rancher demands that his pregnant daughter reveal the name of her child's father. A mythic paternal monster sitting on his throne, he has his child stripped bare and her arm broken in front of family, gunslingers, businessmen, and clergy, producing a terrifying apex of operatic humiliation and violation that's Biblical in its viciousness. The same could be said for the film itself, which takes pleasure in subjecting its protagonists to a hellish and worthless quest to murder a man who is already dead. It's an ironic declaration of life's unending and irrational wretchedness from a director who knew such truths firsthand. Few filmmakers have had the nerve to make a film as wantonly repugnant as Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Even fewer have made such nastiness this bizarrely spellbinding.

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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2012, 08:29:20 PM »

saturday, may 21, 2011
review: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia


Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974, Sam Peckinpah)

Sam Peckinpah is a director whose body of work went mostly unappreciated during his prime. He was a man intent on making film in his own idiosyncratic ways, with personal touches sprinkled throughout all of his films. Some may be wondering what is so special about a director making a film in the manner he or she sees fit, but the reality of Peckinpah’s career when looked back on by film historians (which Between the Seats absolutely does not pretend to be, just in case people get any funny ideas) is that his artistic inclinations frequently clashed with those of the large American studios. The times have changed drastically since the 1960s and early 1970s, and what seemed shockingly violent back then comes across as tame to many younger viewers today. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, which has been referred to as one of Peckinpah’s most personal films, was, like many of the director’s other projects, rejected by movie goers and critics alike upon its initial release. Time has been somewhat kind to it however and a recent viewing of it on DVD prompted the author to share some thoughts in a review.

The film opens with a preview of what is to come in terms of tone and mood. In a remote but wealthy Mexican home, a young woman, most likely a teenager, is brought to her father, El jefe, by a group of the man’s henchmen. With plenty of witnesses observing the scene, among them religious sisters and still more henchmen, the father asks his daughter who ‘the father’ is. The audience immediately understands the nature of the situation. When the girl refuses to reveal the truth despite her father’s insistence, the latter has her arm broken. Through pain and tears she eventually utters the name ‘Alfredo Garcia’ after which the patriarch immediately send his men off to find the bastard responsible.

It is a tense scene which refuses to hold back, something Peckinpah himself was notorious for, or considered notorious depending on to whom one spoke. Much like in a film reviewed here a few weeks ago, The Wild Bunch, the director can really go to town with the violence if the scene asks for it, which is an important distinction to be made from films which feature gratuitous violence. Another ingredient prevalent in the man’s work is the psychological darkness which shrouds his characters. There are frequently sad, frustrating and maybe even disappointing reasons why his characters behave the way they do. That is one of the best ways to begin describing Alfredo Garcia’s main character, Bennie (Warren Oates), a small time piano player in a Mexican bar. Happenstance sees is that the men looking for Alfredo Garcia put their trust in Bennie on the night they walk into his bar. Benny is no bounty hunter, but he seems a bit sharper than everybody else in the room and actually admits to knowing the man by name. It would appear that dear Alfredo was recently seen with Bennie’s current woman, Elita (Isela Vega), who explains to him that Alfredo is in fact already dead after a car accident. Bennie’s new employers want proof of the man’s passing, and so he takes Elita with him to Alfredo’s grave…

As mentioned above, Peckinpah characters often have a darkness about them as well as bitter or sad pasts which in effect help create the paths they tread in the world of the movies. Bennie, once in the United States army, is reduced to playing tunes for tourists in a little bar. The opportunity to make some decent money is too grand to pass on, despite that he must complete a grisly task in order to collect the bounty. Whatever decisions made in the past lead him to the bar where he plays for paltry sums while customers buy him drinks. His decision to fetch for the head of Alfredo Garcia is another stepping stone in his descent towards a personal hell. Warren Oates interprets the character in a very intelligent manner. For Oates, Bennie is a rather depressing figure, frequently drinking (the true telltale sign being when he spits out a mouthful of water at a restaurant despite that he is incredibly thirsty) and behaving as if he has nothing to lose. It is an offbeat yet fascinating performance from an actor who was in a lot of movies but few people seem to remember him. The character’s trademark are the sunglasses he wears, which serve a multitude of functions: maybe without them he looks completely drunk, maybe they are to shield his emotions from those around him, particularly Elita who continuously invites him to get married to move away with her, and maybe the glasses are there simply to make him look cool. There is not much coolness about a man whose life is unfulfilling to the point where he accepts to cut off a person’s head for money, but that may very well be the image Bennie (and the actor Warren Oates) want to showcase. In the end, it indeed makes him look cool even though the audience knows full well that Bennie is in trouble from the moment he accepts the mission which is...less cool.

The film is populated by a people or groups of people who eventually regret whatever decisions they have made or shall make. Elita, Alfredo’s family members who try to stop Bennie from following through with his mission, a couple of Mexican blokes who make an attempt to steal the severed head, the men who hired Bennie, and eventually Bennie himself for choosing to be a part of the whole affair instead of running off with Elita when he had the chance. Peckinpah seemed intent on making a movie about regret, about making the fatal implications of making the wrong decisions. What is interesting about this aspect is how the director chooses to explore it. There is not much action during the film’s first half. Much of what transpires during the film’s first hour is the beginning of the search for Alfredo Garcia and the exploration of Bennie and Elita’s relationship. Some of the scenes play a little bit too long (again, as was discussed in our The Wild Bunch review, Peckinpah had a knack for giving characters down time and to let the world of the film breath and evolve), but all in all the film’s pacing is adequately split up into two halves. Using that strategy, by the film’s end it feels as if all the characters have received their just deserves for having made poor decisions. In the case of some, the viewer may not have wanted to have seen them pay for their mistakes because they were ultimately alright, but the film is less forgiving in that respect.

There are plenty of more popular and arguably superior films in the director’s filmmography, but Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia remains quintessential Peckinpah and it just might represent his cinematic tastes in their most raw form.
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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2012, 08:37:24 PM »

The Beave http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdcompare10/bring_me_the_head_of_alfredo_garcia.htm

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« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2012, 08:46:50 PM »

Head Hunter: Peckinpah's Anarchic Nixon-Era Neo-Noir
A A AComments (0) By Michael Atkinson Tuesday, Mar 15 2005                         
The underworld demon king of masculine genre angst and the world's first genuine action craftsman, Sam Peckinpah was also a quintessentially American artist, contemplating the dusty edges of frontier and social responsibility with a self-crucifying rumbum's bloody gaze. Given his feral pessimism, rampant misogyny, and acceptance of bloodshed as a narrative imperative, Sam was a backyard liquor too strong for most people to drink, and his proper ascension to the auteurist pantheon's high shelves may take a few more years. In the meantime, as a restored Major Dundee readies for re-release (at Film Forum April Cool, the DVD of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) emerges.

Loathed upon its first appearance as a violent, hope-deprived neo-noir that even the Nixon era couldn't handle, Garcia was reportedly the only Peckinpah film the man was happy to call his own. It remains today, in addition to a dirge in reverence to Warren Oates, a graceless, dire vision of cheap humanity, trailing Oates's waste-case roadhouse piano player across a Mexican wilderness in search of reward, salvation, and a severed head in a sack. Desultorily shot, full of dead ends, and as lean as a Beckett monologue, the movie is also coarse and anarchic, a capitalist dream of free-for-all commerce gone scrap crazy. Was Peckinpah thinking about Hollywood? He was virtually through with movies, whether he knew it or not, making four more over the next 10 years, all of which were either wrecked by the producers or Peckinpah's death-drinking, or both. The disc, priced to rock at under 15 bucks, is supplemented by the U.S. trailer and audio commentaries by a gaggle of Peckinpah scholars.

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« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2012, 06:43:57 AM »

clips- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exrC3neUnVI----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAW8ZcT0vsA -------------------------------------------------------http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCi4YpcjghY -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4c4KTDPgvs

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