Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Wild Bunch (1969)

Screened week of February 10th, 2009. I love a great western and this is one. From the first ten minutes, when you see children amusing themselves by torturing a scorpion, and the main characters are introduced -- the Wild Bunch, who are civil war vets turned ruthless bank robbers -- you know you're living in a dark, insane time. And somehow, you gotta figure this is a hell of a lot closer to the real wild west than anything James Garner ever mugged his way through in an episode of Maverick.

Ernest Borgnine kills this one. If any film geek that you know ever says anything as weird as "You know who never got enough credit? Ernest Borgnine," it's because he just saw this movie (as opposed to, say, "Marty").

But you know what's even weirder in this. It also happens in one of my very favorite westerns, Sergio Corbucci's "Django" (1966). Everything's really savage but it makes sense, with the guns and the dynamite and the fighting and the shooting and everything, and then all of a sudden, somebody pulls out a machine gun. I mean, that's the point -- it's supposed to be a big moment, "bet you've never seen one of THESE before!!" -- and I'm reasonably sure this is historically accurate. The machine gun must have been a brand new innovation during this period, late 1800s, say just past 1880 or so. And if I had an ounce of ambition I'd look it up considering Wiki-friggin-pedia is a click away. It just always seems weird.

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