The Wild Bunch (1969) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Wild Bunch is considered Sam Peckinpah's greatest film, is rated among the 150 best of all time at IMDb, and is among the best Westerns ever filmed

Here are the top 10 westerns at IMDb

  1. The Good, the Bad and The Ugly (Leone)
  2. Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone)
  3. Red River (Hawks)
  4. The Searchers (Ford)
  5. The Ox-Bow Incident (Wellmann)
  6. High Noon (Zinnemann)
  7. My Darling Clementine (Ford)
  8. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill)
  9. The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah)
  10. Stagecoach (Ford)

I don't really agree with the ratings in the sense that the Leone films, although enjoyable films in many ways, are vastly overrated and can even be comically bad in stretches. The Outlaw Josey Wales is better than many on the list (High Noon, for example). But that's quibbling. It's generally a solid list, and you can see that Wild Bunch made the cutoff.

Like most westerns, or violent action pictures in general, it is a guy-flick, rated 8.2 by men at IMDb, but only 7.2 by women.

Peckinpah was considered at the time to be a revisionist because, although his storyline is that of a completely traditional romanticized Western, he elevated violence and sex to new levels of graphic prominence in the presentation. Frankly, you would never know that if I had not told you. Looking back on this film from the New Millennium, it is so tame by our current standards that you will barely be aware of any difference between this and a John Ford Western. Stripped of the shock value, which our dulled senses can no longer easily perceive, it is simply a romantic tale in the Western tradition. It resembles Butch Cassidy far more than it resembles any more recent Westerns. Although it is more violent and earthier than Butch Cassidy, it is also essentially a "buddy" flick about old-time outlaws who don't belong in the 20th century. Like Butch and Sundance, the Bunch are continuously pursued by relentless adversaries. 


two of the Bunch take three Mexican hookers into a tub of water. there is some topless and see-through action during and just before that

Bill Holden's fiancee is seen topless in a flashback

a Mexican woman is seen nursing her child

By the way, just one minor thing - the real Rio Grande flows West to East. When the Bunch heads into Mexico, after they cross, they head to the right - downstream, as if the river flowed away from the Gulf. Oops!

The basic plot:

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 2.35:1. Good transfer, but not flawless. there is some grain.

  • Full-length (restored) director's cut 

  • also includes an Oscar-nominated 1996 documentary about the film.

Just before World War One, a gang of aging outlaws need to make "one last score" (the dreaded cliche - how many movies use that?) in order to retire from the violent world they inhabit. The Old West they once new, in the era of the horse and six shooter, is gone, replaced by a world with cars and automatic weapons. 

The Bunch still live the old way, playing hard and working hard, with their own sense of honor and loyalty. Their job involves robbing a heavily-guarded train which is carrying an arms shipment. They have to get the arms off the train and deliver them to some Mexican military types, in return for a specified amount of gold. Along the way, they are robbed of one case of firearms, according to a deal they struck with one of their comrades, a Mexican, to supply some partisans in his village. Although the partisans "got the drop" on them and could have taken all the arms, they only took the one case they were promised. But that was enough to make the Mexican General arrest the Mexican member of the Bunch when the exchange was made. Even though they pulled off the heist and get the gold, it is their very code of loyalty to their arrested comrade that leads them back to a death they could have avoided.

The plot is nothin' special, but it's a terrific film, one of the best "male bonding" films in the genre. Bill Holden is charismatic as the leader of the Bunch, supported throughout the cast. The actual train robbery at the center of the film is tense, exciting, and great fun. The bridge explosion is probably the most famous in all films except for the River Kwai. 

And there are all sorts of layers of meaning not immediately obvious, one being the corrupting effect of their violence on the children who watch it throughout the film.

Recommended for anyone who likes Westerns or any character-driven action films. Film looks good, action is choreographed smoothly, the editing is excellent. One of the best.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 8.1 (top 150 of all time)
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B. Terrific flick, but definitely a guy's film. Fascinating DVD.

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