Monday, May 21, 2012

589. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

Running Time: 112 minutes
Directed By: Sam Peckinpah
Written By: Gordon T. Dawson, Frank Kowalski, Sam Peckinpah
Main Cast: Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Robert Webber, Gig Young, Helmut Dantine
Click here to view the trailer


"Bloody" Sam Peckinpah finally makes his appearance on this blog, as I watch my first Peckinpah film for THE BOOK - "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia". This is the first of (if I'm not mistaken) four Peckinpah films and I can only hope they get better from here.

Warren Oates as Bennie
In Mexico, a powerful man named "El Jefe" summons his daughter to see him and asks her who the father of her unborn child is. After El Jefe's henchmen rip the clothes from her body and break her arm, she finally gives up the man's name - Alfredo Garcia - and El Jefe offers up $1 million to the man who produces his head. Two of El Jefe's henchmen, Sappensly (Webber) and Quill (Young) take a picture of Alfredo Garcia and spend the next two months asking anyone who'll listen, if they've seen Garcia. Finally, they hit some luck when a piano player at a bar, Bennie (Oates), gives them some hope. He doesn't admit that he's seen Garcia, but Sappensly and Quill are suspicious of Bennie and give him their card in case he remembers anything else. It turns out that Bennie does know Garcia and in fact, his girlfriend, a prostitute named Elita (Vega), previously cheated on Bennie with Garcia and informs Bennie that Garcia died recently. Bennie goes back to meet with the two henchmen, who are staying at a local hotel and informs them of the new developments. They offer Bennie $10,000 if he'll find the grave of Alfredo Garcia, dig up the body, sever the head and bring it back to them. He accepts.

A great scene featuring Isela Vega and Kris Kristofferson
Even though I didn't care too much for BMTHOAG, I can admit that the gritty style of Sam Peckinpah did appeal to me. The characters were slimy, the towns were desolate and the evil men didn't come any meaner than guys like El Jefe and his henchmen. Even the main character, Bennie, wasn't really your typical hero, as he more resembled a weasel. My problems with "Alfredo Garcia" were really with the script, as it veered too much from it's main objective, which was a man hunting down a grave, claiming the head and delivering it for a cash reward. There's a huge chunk in the middle of "Alfredo Garcia" where we simply follow Bennie and his girlfriend Elita, as they talk about the prospect of marriage, driving through Mexico and detouring for a picnic. In my opinion, the script needed a little more work and a little more focus to really hit the nail on the head. I also would have liked some heavier dialogue, as none of the characters are very outspoken and when they speak their lines, they really fail at hammering them home. It's as if none of the words that are being delivered are very important, as there's a lot of mumbling and there's no lines that really stick out or seem poignant or even important.

Trouble at the grave!
At times BMTHOAG reminded me of a failed Sergio Leone picture, as Bennie eventually transforms into a sort of outlaw, taking justice into his own hands and dishing out bullets as if they were dimes, treating his victims like parking meters. You can also see where modern directors like Quentin Tarantino or The Coen Brothers may have drawn some of their inspiration from Sam, with factors like violence and vigilante characters. In my defense, I'd have to say that I saw their films first and thus, sometimes I prefer them to the director's that they were inspired by. It's like eating a bacon cheeseburger and then going back and trying a regular hamburger, it just isn't going to taste as good. Ultimately BMTHOAG just didn't do it for me. There were certain scenes that grasped my interest and I was able to appreciate some aspects of Peckinpah's style, but there was more bad than good in this viewer's eyes.

RATING: 5/10  I'll still look forward to more of Sam's movies. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.


May 21, 2012  5:46pm

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