Aug 2, 2017

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Over the years, I have compiled of mental list of must-see films that I procrastinate watching because I want to be in the right mood and setting to appreciate such a supposed masterpiece and do not want to somehow ruin what can be an aesthetically transcendent experience. Indeed, I still haven’t seen a number of Ingmar Bergman’s films, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s Parsifal (1982), Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colours trilogy, and countless other films that I probably should have watched many years ago. After recently finally watching Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) aka Tráiganme la cabeza de Alfredo García directed by absolutely singular Hollywood maverick Sam Peckinpah (Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch), I can only say that I am pissed at myself for waiting about a decade too long to watch what is one of the most pleasantly venomously visceral and inexplicably cathartic yet senselessly tragic films that I have ever seen.  In fact, I think it is now my favorite Peckinpah flick and I say that as one of the rare individuals that prefers Straw Dogs (1971) to his supposed magnum opus The Wild Bunch (1969). Sometimes feeling like a paradoxically immaculate exploitation flick on steroids as directed by a refreshingly unpretentious cinematic master possessed by the perennially bitter spirit of Ambrose Bierce, the film is notable for being the only work directed by Peckinpah that is a true ‘director’s cut’ as it was released exactly the way he intended it to be and it certainly shows as a deliciously unpleasant movie that is dripping with spiritual morbidity, latent misanthropy, and a foredoomed sort of tenderness that only the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) director was capable of.  Indeed, fuck Peckinpah's somewhat minor celebrated westerns like Ride the High Country (1962) and The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is forever!

Featuring a hard-drinking and self-destructive war veteran antihero that is always conspicuously hiding his thoroughly inebriated bloodshot eyes behind sunglasses and who has a fetish for fiery yet sensual Latinas, the film is also, for better or worse (I go with the latter), Peckinpah’s most autobiographical and auteur-driven work. Made at the beginning of the late period of the filmmaker’s career after the failure of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is, in the best sort of way, the sort of film you would expect from a terribly talented yet troubled man that once pathetically confessed, “I can't direct when I'm sober.” The sad, slightly pitiful, sometimes melancholic and ultimately hopelessly tragic yet endlessly enthralling and perversely passionate tale of a hapless gringo bartender that gets him and his beloved pussy-peddler mestizo lover sucked into the highly dangerous Mexican criminal underworld upon learning about the large bounty placed upon the literal head of a dead male-whore that made the mistake of impregnating his crime boss’s special little girl, the film is also a rather fittingly love letter to Peckinpah’s virtual second home of Mexico. Indeed, despite the film’s dark and morbid content, it also manages to reveal Peckinpah’s more sensitive side, namely his love of Mexico and the Mexican people and especially his love of young nubile Mexican women. After all, the love of Peckinpah’s love was Mexican actress Begoña Palacios (1965–1984), who he married no less than three times and had a daughter with. Like the protagonist’s lover in the film, Palacios was perennially passionately devoted to Peckinpah who, not unlike the character in the film, had a hard time adequately (and sanely) expressing his emotions to his brown-skinned beloved. Of course, much like Peckinpah, the film's antihero—a painfully conspicuous stand-in for the alcoholic auteur—does not realize what he has until it is too late and he has lost it, especially where love is concerned. 

 A film that has managed to have entries in both 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (2003) edited by Steven Schneider and The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (And How They Got That Way) (1978) by Zionist turd Harry Medved and Randy Dreyfuss, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is certainly the sort of shockingly unflinching, venomously vexatious, and unrepentantly ‘politically incorrect’ cinematic work that divides viewers. Indeed, I certainly cannot imagine a true blue optimist coming away from watching the film without feeling like they have suffered some sort of major metaphysical trauma that causes them to question the very meaning of life.  For pessimists, the film offers a virtual playground of human stupidity, absurdism, and senseless tragedy in poetic celluloid form.  In fact, the film even concludes with a close-up of a smoking gun barrel pointed directly at the audience, as if to remind the viewer in a humorously obnoxious fashion that life is all about pain, death, and destruction and that no one escapes death.  Set in a wicked and wayward world devoid of heroes where only the meanest and morally bankrupt of motherfuckers thrive and survive, Peckinpah’s flick is in many ways the ‘antihero film par excellence’ where an underdog pays the ultimate price for playing a very naughty game in a uniquely underhanded fashion that involves the decaying dismembered head of a Mexican chap that had cuckolded him only a couple weeks before.  A compulsively cynical and somewhat morally dubious dude that is willing to risk his life if he sees a special opportunity to get rich quick, the antihero attempts to cheat in a deadly game with Mexico’s criminal elite that involves him procuring the head of a man that only he knows is already dead for a $1 million bounty. Unfortunately, the protagonist unwittingly pays the ultimate cost for his singularly sleazy efforts, which eventually results in him losing every single thing that he truly values, namely what is left of his personal integrity and the inordinately sweet and loving Latina love of his life. 

 Vaguely (anti)Orphic in its daunting depiction of an antihero that loses his lover and intentionally enters a sort of figurative hell south of the border, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is unquestionably an action film that totally transcends genre as a work that might also be described as being simultaneously a black tragicomedy, cowboy-less neo-western, Mexican gangster flick, necro-buddy movie, artsploitation revenge-thriller, and ultra-violent dark romance. In short, the film is a subversive work of cinematic art of the totally true grit oriented sort as directed by a man that was not afraid to be a man, especially in the unflattering sense of the word. More reluctantly neurotic and self-denigrating than self-pitying, the film is also, somewhat surprisingly, more drenched in grief and gloom than it is blood and gut, though it is by no means a tame film as far as delightfully deranged ultra-violence is concerned. Featuring singularly darkly humorous scenarios like a gay hit man knocking out a hooker that dares to hit on him and a protagonist that uses vodka to clean his genitals after a long hard night of dirty interracial sex, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a hopelessly humanistic film in the sense that Peckinpah dares to reveal the most unflattering aspects of human vulnerability, moral fragility, and suffering, but one should not expect anything less from an auteur that owned up to the fact that he was a self-destructive fuck-up and dipsomaniac that was incapable of living a stable life and maintaining a healthy romantic relationship. 

Undoubtedly, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia does for the action genre what Werner Schroeter’s Der Tod der Maria Malibran (1972) aka The Death of Maria Malibran did for European high-camp in terms of being a rare film where virtually every single shot resembles a painting in terms of its seemingly immaculate composition. Indeed, despite technically being a genre film and featuring about as much sleazy content as a gleefully morally bankrupt 1970s Italian exploitation film, the aesthetic integrity of film deserves to be compared to the greatest and most hypnotic tableaux vivants of Visconti, which says a lot since most of the film is set in the Mexican countryside and inside dilapidated buildings that are not even fit for rabid barnyard animals. Once rightly described by belated pop film critic Roger Ebert as “some kind of bizarre masterpiece,” the film provides the hallucinatory experience of hard drugs with the timeless tragic nuance of Shakespeare, albeit in a manner that can be easily consumed by the most inebriated of sub-literate white lumpenproles and mestizo farmers. 

 At the very beginning of the film, the viewer is exposed to the misleadingly splendorous and serene image of a beautiful pregnant teenager as she basks in the sunlight beside a placid lake with swans in a scenario that resembles a sort of ethereal Mexican pastoral heaven. Before the viewer knows it, the young girl is brought before a sort of family kangaroo court where her crime boss father ‘El Jefe’ (played by Mexican actor and auteur Emilio Fernández, who is best known for directing the Palme d'Or award winning feature María Candelaria (1944)) demands to known who impregnated her while a virtual army of people that include her family members, Catholic nuns, and gangsters watch on in abject anticipation. When the teenager, who clearly loves the lucky mensch that knocked her up, refuses to comply, El Jefe has her top ripped off in a quasi-incestuous that eventually morally degenerates into minor torture. When the tormented topless teen can no longer take the physical and emotional pain of being tortured in front of a bunch of people, she finally reveals that her father’s protégé “Alfredo Garcia” is the sperm donor of her unborn child. Although El Jefe somberly states of Garcia that, “He was like a son to me,” he desperately lusts for revenge and immediately offers a bounty for her daughter’s baby-daddy of $1 million, thus leading to many of his henchmen immediately vacating the premises so that they can go hunting for the poor miserable fool that idiotically got his all-powerful cutthroat boss’s teenage daughter pregnant.  While El Jefe will sort of get his revenge in the end in a somewhat expected way, so will his lovelorn daughter in what ultimately proves to be one fucked up Mexican family drama.

 Unfortunately for the film’s gringo protagonist Bennie (Warren Oates)—a retired U.S. Army officer turned perennially drunk bartender that seems set on wasting away in a third world hellhole—he eventually learns of the bounty when two homo hit men show up at his bar in Mexico City and begin asking about the whereabouts of the seemingly elusive Alfredo Garcia. Indeed, when suavely dressed cocksucker career criminals Sappensly (Robert Webber) and Johnny Quill (Gig Young) show up at his bar and begin waving around money and asking about Garcia, born loser Bennie immediately begins scheming and lies to the two unconventionally intimidating killers by claiming that he does not know the man. As it turns out, Garcia cuckolded Bennie only a couple weeks before by banging his beloved Hispanic hooker girlfriend Elita (Isela Vega).  When Bennie talks to Elita and learns that Garcia is already dead as a result of stereotypically dying in a drunken car crash, he believes he has a ‘sure thing’ and will be able to easily collect the bounty without having to actually commit a murder.  Needless to say, Bennie has no qualms about defiling Alfredo's corpse.  Unfortunately for him, Bennie’s lazy amoral scheme will eventually lead him on a suicidal path of no return involving violent deaths and grisly (self)destruction. After talking to Sappensly and Quill’s pompous German boss ‘Max’ (played by Helmut Dantine, who also acted as the film’s executive producer), they agree to pay him $10,000 for the head of Alfredo Garcia, though they also threaten to kill him if he fucks up. In fact, one of Max’s associates—a very Jewy four-eyed fellow that reeks of NYC style arrogance—even dares to call Bennie “a loser,” but he calmly retorts, “Nobody loses all the time.” Somewhat ironically, while Bennie eventually does obtain the head, he ultimately loses everything else in the process. While Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia might be a true underdog tale, said underdog goes down and brings virtually everyone else with him.

 As far as the timeless ‘whore with a heart of gold’ archetype is concerned, Elita—a pleasant little pussy-peddler who is quite proud of her naked body as demonstrated by the fact that she is always flaunting it, including in front of potential rapists—is arguably the most sympathetic, lovable, and believable ‘sporting girl’ in cinema history and I say that as someone that is a great fan of Giulietta Masina’s tragic lovelorn streetwalker in Federico Fellini’s early classic Le notti di Cabiria (1957) aka Nights of Cabiria. Indeed, Elita’s flagrantly expressed love for booze-loving burnout Bennie is largely responsible for humanizing him as he would be a mostly despicable character otherwise, hence why it is so devastatingly heartbreaking when the protagonist’s absurd get-rich-quick scheme ultimately leads to her obscenely senseless premature demise. In fact, while Peckinpah has oftentimes been criticized for being a supposed misogynist, it is ultimately the main two female characters, Elita and El Jefe’s teenage daughter, that are the strongest and most sympathetic characters in the entire film as two inordinately selfless women that are willing to sacrifice everything for the love of their man. Undoubtedly, the darkest and most emotionally wounding irony of the film is that Bennie unwittingly assigns his lover Elita’s death for a scheme that she was very vocally against from the very beginning, thus highlighting her virtually suicidal loyalty.  Indeed, it is almost as if Elita has a sort of noble savage sixth sense that helps her foresee serious danger that bumbling buffoon Bennie lacks. Intending to get married and more or less ‘retire’ together upon collecting the bounty, the money naturally ultimately becomes pointless once Elita is killed, which indubitably explains why Bennie eventually decides to go on a suicidal killing spree in end in an act that is probably best described as a form of stupendously sick broken-hearted penance of the murderously mournful sort. 

 After spending a vodka-fueled picnic together where the lovers demonstrate their love for one another and agree on getting married soon in an inordinately sweet and tender Peckinpah love scene that really underscores the auteur's surprising emotional range as a filmmaker, Elita makes the mistake of talking Bennie into camping out in the dangerous Mexican countryside under the stars.  Not surprisingly considering the setting and director, the romantic scene in the picture perfect pastoral setting degenerates from classic romance into attempted rape and brutal vengeful murder. Unfortunately, two inhumane hippie bikers (one played by musician-turned-actor Kris Kristofferson and the other by Donnie Fritts) crash their campsite and almost immediately demand at gunpoint that they be able to take turns raping Elita, who, somewhat disturbingly, is quite the trooper in terms of embracing her ugly fate. Indeed, when Bennie violently threatens the armed bikers, Elita replies, “Oh, no, you won’t, Benny. I’ve been here before, you don’t know the way,” as if she has been in a similar situation many times before. A totally tough hot tamale that even manages play sexual assault by her own rules, Elita takes the biker played by Kristofferson aside, takes off her shirt, proudly puffs out her bare tits, and even violently slaps the would-be-rapist in the face in a manner that seems to turn-on that degenerate bikeboy bastard. Rather curiously, Elita even seems to enjoy it when the biker begins passionately kissing her, but that does not last long as Bennie manages to catch the bikers off guard and then ruthlessly kills them both, but not before declaring “Hey! You’re dirt!” to the dirty hippie that is defiling his beloved. Of course, had not Elita played it so cool in the situation and neglected to act like a stereotypical hysterical women, both she and Bennie would have probably been killed immediately, thus demonstrating that the heroine is more of a natural survivor than her somewhat insecure gringo lover. Undoubtedly, before she is killed, Elita acts as Bennie’s virtual guardian angel, so it is no surprise that he goes in full self-combustion mode after her tragic death.   Indeed, Elita may be a cheap Mexican whore, but she has a certain penetrating purity of spirit that her cynical and somewhat jaded lover just completely lacks.

 Notably, it is only after the unsavory incident with the bikers—an episode that clearly internally wounds the antihero's manhood—that Bennie finally dares to come completely clean and admits to Elita his intention of digging up her ex-lover Alfredo’s assumedly somewhat rotten corpse and decapitating the head. While Elita is completely against the plan and describes it as an act of desecration, Bennie cynically describes Alfredo as their “saint” and then absurdly argues like some sort of cynical redneck pseudo-philosopher, “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 a saint of our money. And I’m gonna borrow a piece of him.” At this point, Elita, who cannot believe that her beau wants to actually decapitate the head of her rotting ex-beau, almost considers breaking up with Bennie, but she cannot bear to betray her beloved and instead reluctantly guides him to Alfredo’s small hometown village. Somewhat disturbingly, the lovers witness a rather joyous funeral for a small child at the same exact graveyard that Alfredo is buried out. Undoubtedly, the dead child in the small wooden coffin is eerily symbolic of the child that Bennie and Elita will never have together, as the latter will soon be dead.

When Bennie finally goes to do the dirty deed and begins digging up freshly Alfredo’s freshly buried grave, Elita simply cannot watch and walks away. Unfortunately, Bennie will never see her alive again, as he is soon knocked out cold with a shovel by an unseen assailant and later wakes up buried underneath the ground next to Elita’s lifeless corpse. Upon digging himself out of the shallow grave, Bennie tries in vain to revive Elita’s corpse, only to absurdly accuse her of wanting to be with Alfredo when she fails to wakeup from her perennial slumber. Of course, upon emerging from the ground, Bennie—a pathetic man that has just lost the one person in the entire world that truly loved and cared him—is virtually reborn and proceeds to degenerate into a quasi-nihilistic killer whose best friend becomes a decapitated Mexican head. Indeed, not long after Elita is killed, Bennie manages to catch up with the malevolent mestizos that murdered his lover and stole Alfredo’s head. Upon unleashing a storm of bullets on both the men and killing them in cold blood, the antihero states with a sort of morbid sadistic glee that, “it feels so damn good.” After that, Alfredo’s head becomes Bennie’s best friend and closet confidant. While Alfredo’s family eventually attempts to take the head back at gunpoint, Sappensly and Quill randomly show up and begin exterminating the poor unwitting peasants with a machine-gun, though the latter is eventually killed by one of Garcia’s relatives. When Bennie demonstrates his lack of tact by asking Sappensly “do I get paid?” while the highly homicidal homo hit man is caressing the still warm corpse of his gay lover, the seemingly psychopathic cocksucker gets a little bit irked and naturally attempts to kill the protagonist. Luckily, Bennie manages to kill Sappensly before the sod can get a shot in. 

 After procuring fresh ice for Alfredo’s head and even giving said head a shower later on at his apartment, Bennie symbolically packs the rotten dome piece inside Elita’s picnic basket and then visits Max and his goons at their lavish hotel headquarters to ostensibly get paid for the bounty. When a discernibly angry Bennie dares to question Max about what he wants the head for, the sly kraut criminal retorts, “No question, Benny . . . The ten thousand answers it all.” With nothing left to lose and completely angry with both himself and the career criminals that hired him, Bennie proceeds to describe how the picnic basket that is carrying the head “belonged to a very special lady” and then abruptly proceeds to shoot and kill every single man in the room. Luckily, Bennie manages to grab El Jefe’s business card off of Max's corpse, thus giving him the information he needs to collect the full bounty.  Instead of a mere $10,000, Bennie seeks to gain $1 million by personally delivering the head to the man that put out the bounty, but unfortunately for the gangster leader the antihero no longer has any use for money.  Looking to avenge his dead lover and place the blame at the supposed source of all his largely self-induced troubles, Bennie decides to pay El Jefe at his lavish estate and give Alfredo’s head to him personally.  Needless to say, Bennie sparks a massacre that he himself will never emerge from.

Quite fittingly, if not sickly, Bennie arrives at the house during the baptism of El Jefe’s grandson, who also happens to be Alfredo's son. Indeed, the same day that the bastard baby boy is baptized, his father’s head is delivered to his grandfather. Needless to say, lovesick lunatic Bennie—a man that has lost everything, not least of all the love of his life and what was left of his personal dignity—is quite dissatisfied when El Jefe simply hands over a briefcase with $1 million and dispassionately remarks, “Take it and go. I have everything that I want. I have my grandson. So go. Don’t forget to take that [Alfredo’s head] and throw it to the pigs.” In fact, Bennie becomes deeply infuriated, yells, “Sixteen people are dead because of him . . . and you. And me. And one of ‘em was a damn good friend of mine!,” and then begins shooting El Jefe’s henchmen. In a nice little twist, Bennie also murders El Jefe at the request of his daughter, who has still not gotten over the fact that her father put a literal price on her lover's head. In the end, Bennie says to El Jefe’s daughter, “You take care of the boy . . . and I’ll take care of the father” and then attempts to escape from the gangster’s well guarded estate by driving his car through the well-guarded front gate, but he is ultimately struck down with seemingly thousands of bandito bullets in what proves to be a fitting quasi-suicidal melodramatic conclusion to one miserable wasted life in a wicked romance film where a forsaken loser avenges the murder of his lover the best way he can. 

 I think it is safe to say Peckinpah would agree with Robert Bresson's personal cinematic philosophy that, to quote the French master auteur, “I'd rather people feel a film before understanding. I'd rather feelings arise before intellect.” After all, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia—an inordinately visceral film that increasingly pokes and prods at the soul of the viewer in a manner that might be seen by some as a sort of metaphysical torture—disgusted many reviewers when it was originally released and I would not be surprised if the average contemporary ‘normie’ viewer would have a hard time explaining the film’s antihero Bennie true motivations, especially in the end when he chooses death over driving away with a small fortune. Of course, one could easily argue that Peckinpah and his film are example of what Poe described when he wrote about “the human thirst for self-torture,” but the auteur seemed to be more conscious of his psychological defects than most, thus making it all the more tragic that he died the way he did. Indeed, in a 1974 interview with Joe Gelmis of Newsday, Peckinpah would even go so far as to confess during a somewhat depressing moment of self-illumination, “I’m the greatest stupid romantic in the world . . . really stupid. I’m an outsider and I think being an outsider is a lonely, losing job. I would love to be married and live in a split-level house, I love all that shit, but I don’t do it. I get into many problems, I drink too much, and I get into too many fights. Next year, I’ll be fifty years old and I’ve got to quit. Three knuckles have been broken; it’s gone, right there right there, and right there, you can see it. . . .”   Not unlike the antihero of his family, Peckinpah probably would have loved nothing more than to have spent the rest of his life living in a modest Mexican home with his Latina true love Begoña Palacios, but instead he became a slave to his own personal demons and more or less drank himself to death while trying in vain to reignite his stagnating filmmaking career.  Of course, to understand Peckinpah's film on a more innate and visceral level, one must be familiar with a certain degree of misery and desperation.  Luckily, instead of being marinated in moody melancholia like a Bergman flick, Peckinpah's film concludes with an exceedingly energetic and even transcendental form of self-destruction that feels strangely satisfying.  In that sense, one could argue that the film has a quasi-happy ending as the antihero's internal suffering comes to an end and he even manages to avenge a young Mexican teenage mother in the process, thus slightly redeeming himself in the end.

 While the increasingly erratic and self-destructive auteur made a number of films throughout his career depicting mad misfits and unhinged loners, none of these come close to the magisterial madness of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia where full-fledged self-annihilation becomes a poetic form of spiritual transcendence and the only logical answer to a life no longer worth living. In that sense, it should be no surprise that Peckinpah—a man that had already completely submitted to his dipsomaniacal demons—would never direct another masterpiece, though Cross of Iron (1977) is certainly a classic ‘antiwar’ film of sorts and arguably the best film ever directed by an American from the German perspective during WWII. Indeed, Peckinpah’s Steve McQueen vehicle The Getaway (1972)—another darkly romantic ‘action’ flick that is by no means a bad film—seems like prosaic pussy play compared to the whimsical unhingement, unrelenting spiritual ravenousness, and morbid moral decrepitude of the true renegade cinematic masterpiece that is Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. I surely cannot think of another film where an ultraviolent death in rural Mexico at the hands of a bunch of insufferably swarthy bloodthirsty banditos seems like a ‘noble’ and relatively morally redeeming prospect. After all, in the end, the antihero finally demonstrates that his ‘very special lady’ is worth more to him than all the money in the world, even though, quite tragically, he could not actually prove this to her when she was actually still alive. In other words, the film bleeds romantic regret in a perversely poetic fashion, as if Peckinpah was compelled by his haunted (sub)conscious to pay tribute and respect to all the wives and girlfriends that he left emotionally devastated due to his belligerent and explosively abusive behavior. While I have great respect for Peckinpah as a cinematic artist, his films almost always give me a feeling of great relief that I am nowhere near as hopelessly forsaken as the clearly internally wounded man that created them.

Notably, Peckinpah's deeply flawed swansong The Osterman Weekend (1973) features a deranged renegade CIA agent portrayed by belated British actor John Hurt that is morbidly obsessed with the absolutely heinous post-coital murder of his beloved platinum blonde wife portrayed by Danish model Merete Van Kamp. Indeed, not unlike the antihero of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Hurt's heartsick character goes on a virtual suicide mission that involves a lot of senseless death and destruction. Of course, both of these characters are indubitably quasi-cryptic expressions of Peckinpah's own heavy-hearted regret and vulnerability and reveal that the filmmaker was a haunted (ex)romantic that virtually suffered a pathological obsession in regard to his lost loves. Rather revealingly, when asked by Kathleen Carroll of The Daily News in 1974 about his intent with Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Peckinpah gave the less than flattering response, “The picture is about two things: it is about a love story, and it is about vengeance, a dish, as Machiavelli said, that is best served cold. . . .Somebody asked if I hit women, and I said, ‘Of course I do, I believe in equal rights for women. . . .’ If you study and live with something at all, you find that tenderness and violence sometimes go hand in hand.”  While I have never hit a woman and consider so-called sexual equality to be a sad joke at the expense of both genders, I can certainly understand the dichotomy of tenderness and violence when it comes to romance, as deep emotions are certainly stirred when it comes to true love, especially when at least one person in the relationship suffers from personal demons.  After all, there is no greater motivation for murder than some sort of unquenchable thirst for romantic revenge, but I digress.

If you ever wondered about the personal and psychological motivations behind spree-killings and/or violent suicides, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is one of the oh-so very few films that offers such daunting insights. Indeed, if you're a lovelorn man suffering from crushing grief and need some inspiration to go on a suicidal mass murder mission, Peckinpah's cinematic work is certainly the film to see as a sort of Titanic (1997) for romantically forsaken psychos and woebegone winos. Of course, more importantly, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a morbidly romantic masterpiece that contains the following timeless message: “¡Viva la Muerte!” 

-Ty E


Buschly said...

That's great you finally got around to watching it. I've only one gripe with the movie, along with The Wild Bunch, it has an incredibly lameass soundtrack. It sounds like incidental music from an episode of the Brady Bunch, or something more suited for a Don Knotts Disney movie. Both would have been better without any soundtrack at all.

Soiled Sinema said...

Yeah, I don't understand why Peckinpah worked with Jerry Fielding since most of his musical scores suck, though he did slightly better on "Straw Dogs."

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree, i`ve always thought the music that accompanys the end titles sequence is pure magic and makes the movie seem even more profound and legendary.

Anonymous said...

BTW Buschly and Ty E, have you ever heard the theme to the Brady Bunch or the music from a Don Knotts Disney movie ?, they`re both a laughable joke and light years away from the stunning and beautifully appropriate score written by Fielding for this ludicrously under-rated movie. And one other item, his misic for THE WILD BUNCH was total perfection as well.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, engaging review of my personal favorite film — and I believe I've discussed back in the past what a Sam Peckinpah fanboy I am. I own Alfredo Garcia on two different Blu-Ray releases (one domestic, one from the UK), I've still got my standard DVD of it from ten-plus years ago, and I've also managed to hold onto my old VHS cassette of it. Also, from where I'm typing, I can glance up at my living room wall and see my framed poster for the film staring back at me.

One of the many things I find fascinating about the film — and this is a huge testament to Peckinpah's intensely personal knowledge of Mexico — is that I showed it to a couple of Latina temptresses I was somewhat-dating back in my days of chasing the brown nipples, and not only were neither of the two women offended in the least by Peckinpah's alleged cunt-hating but they both recognized an authentic portrayal of "the old country" in what he gave us. Where most white hipster cucks I tried to turn on to Peckinpah's vision bailed as soon as Emilio Fernandez's crime lord has his pregnant daughter stripped before a room full of people, and then orders his henchmen to snap her arm like a twig, these two ancestral daughters of South of the Border barely flinched. Straw Dogs, arguably the second purest distillation of Bloody Sam's vision, worked much the same way for me. I practically used the damn thing as a date film for various girls and I never ran into one who failed to see some essential truths about femininity reflected in Susan George's Amy. And all of them registered a woman's natural disdain for Dustin Hoffman's wormy, passive-aggressive beta dithering and prolonging of the inevitable.

Also, Ty, I believe that you shortchange the estimable Pauline Kael in regard to her assessments of film as a medium — though I am, as you are, ever aware of her firm grounding in early-to-mid-twentieth century Jewish leftism. You could say they don't make liberal Jews like they used to — many of her classic reviews are filled with observations and asides that would see her get absolutely skewered by today's hysterically baying mob of tatted-up, fuchsia-haired, "body-positive" (and, sadly, largely Gentile) SJW's.

I'm currently preparing a piece on Victim, Basil Dearden's 1961 barrister-blackmailed-over-his-secret-homosexuality drama starring Dirk Bogarde, and I'm recalling her dryly hilarious (and, most certainly, un-kosher-by-2017-standards) remarks throughout her review of the film, such as:

"I'm beginning to long for one of those old-fashioned movie stereotypes — the vicious, bitchy, old queen who said mean, funny things. We may never again have those Franklin Pangborn roles, now that homosexuals are going to be treated seriously, with sympathy and respect, like Jews and Negroes."


"A minor problem in trying to take Victim seriously even as a thriller is that the suspense involves a series of 'revelations' that several of the highly placed characters have been concealing their homosexuality; but actors, and especially English actors, generally look so queer anyway, that it's ... hard to believe in the actors who are supposed to be straight."

Or, as Archie Bunker would have put it re: that last observation, "England... is a fag country. Their whole society is based on a kind of a fag-dom."

Soiled Sinema said...

Scott Is NOT A Professional: Indeed, I'm familiar with some of Kael's less pc writings. Her most controversial review, which was never included in her later collections, was undoubtedly of Claude Lanzmann's epically banal holocaust epic "Shoah" where she criticizes the director for his Judaic supremacist and anti-pollack sentiments.

Due to her own working-class background, Kael apparently had a certain disdain for bourgeois NYC Jewish intellectual types.

Incidentally, she had a daughter with gay avant-garde filmmaker James Broughton, who made a number of worthwhile 'metaphysical' cinematic works. I wouldn't be surprised if her disdain for gay men was inspired by him.

My main beef with Kael is her seemingly general 'disdain' (or, probably more accurately, incapacity to understand) for a good portion of European arthouse cinema and absurd attacks on Orson Welles. Also, she actually actively attempted to stop her protege Paul Schrader from becoming a screenwriter and then barely even mentioning him in her review of "Taxi Driver."

teddy crescendo said...

Pauline Kaels first name was the same as Pauline Hickeys ! ! !.