1977, Movies

Cross of Iron (1977, Sam Peckinpah)

It’s because of movies like Cross of Iron that, when I find a director I think is interesting, I try to watch all his movies, even those that don’t have good reputations.

In the CD player: Wheels of Fire by Cream…listening to the live part. The first two tracks are great, the second two suck.

What to say about this movie? I don’t know…”Wow.” The opening credit sequence is the best he’s ever done. The acting, I think, is uniformly good to great. But the movie’s a mess. And somehow it works. Sure, there’s the cliche dialogue…a fair amount of it. There are some convenient plot contrivances. But aside from that, I think this is one of the most impressive… and insane… movies he’s made. It seems to have a bad reputation with the critics. That’s ok, what do they know? I don’t know what to say really. If I had more room on my computer I would have saved this and Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia to watch over and over and think about. They’re fascinating films. Cross of Iron is far from a perfect movie, but it’s movies like this that make me want to never stop watching movies. It’s too bad that in the last few years before he died (as a result of his alcoholism, apparently) he basically became a hack. His last movie, The Osterman Weekend, is a twistathon that doesn’t make any sense (and does not really have any of his trademark touches…). Convoy scares me. I don’t want to watch a “trucker comedy.” But everything else I’ve seen of his…he rarely fails to impress. Even though many of his films have been significantly tampered with by studios, what’s there is often amazing and never boring.

If you don’t mind violence…better yet, if you’re interested in violence as a part of the human character, you should watch Peckinpah. That’s not to say all his films are about violence…but the best of the one’s I’ve seen, and the most interesting, are indeed about violence. I’m experiencing deja vu. I honestly wish I could make some kind of coherent argument for why you should see Cross of Iron. All I can say is that Peckinpah may have been slightly insane and impossible to work with, but few American film makers of his generation (that is, the slightly pre-american renaissance generation) made films like him. He was an original.

Be seeing you.

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