Sam Peckinpah – Junior Bonner (1972)


Plot Synopsis from Allmovie:

Sam Peckinpah eschews his slow-motion bullet ballets for this quiet character study of ex-rodeo cowboy turned drifter Junior Bonner (Steve McQueen), who returns home to Arizona to reconcile with the family he hasn’t seen in years. Bonner is shocked to see that the solid family he was hoping to come back to is breaking apart. His parents, Ace (Robert Preston) and Elvira (Ida Lupino), have separated, and his brother Curley (Joe Don Baker) has turned into a heartless real estate tycoon, parceling off sections of his parent’s land for quick money. With nowhere to turn and nowhere to run, Bonner has to face himself and try to find a way to regain his self-respect. He is given that opportunity at the town’s Fourth of July Rodeo, where he is determined to mount and ride and unrideable bull. Continue reading

Sam Peckinpah – The Ballad Of Cable Hogue [+Extras] (1970)


Peckinpah demonstrated a sense of humor in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE that had not been seen since his early TV days when he ran one of the best and most overlooked cowboy shows ever, “The Westerner,” starring Brian Keith. CABLE HOGUE is at its best when chronicling how the Old West passed and mercantilism spread across the Great Plains.
Robards is a prospector abandoned in the desert and left to die by Martin and Jones. (They worked together again that same year in THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN.) Instead of dying, he finds water in a previously arid spot, opens a rest stop for thirsty travelers, and prospers. Stevens is a whore determined to sleep her way to riches, and after a brief fling with Robards, she decides to move on to greener sheets, fleeing to San Francisco. (This is Stevens’s best role and underlines the terrible waste of her career–she’s terrific.) Warner pops in and out as a preacher who can’t decide whether he should save souls or live a life of dedicated hedonism. Hedonism wins. If you’re expecting blood and guts and slow-motion death forget it. Peckinpah decided to make a different movie here, and different it is. Not a hit at the box office, it remains one of his finest efforts, funny, touching and never mawkishly sentimental. Continue reading

Sam Peckinpah – The Wild Bunch [+Extras] (1969)


Outlaws on the Mexican-U.S. frontier face the march of progress, the Mexican army and a gang of bounty hunters led by a former member while they plan a robbery of a U.S. army train. No one is innocent in this gritty tale of of desperation against changing times. Pump shotguns, machine guns and automobiles mix with horses and winchesters in this ultraviolent western. Continue reading

Ernst Lubitsch – Madame DuBarry aka Passion (1919)


In 1919, before Ernst Lubitsch was known for his famous “touch,” the master director made something like nine films–a perfect opportunity for an artist to really practice his craft. Even he had to start somewhere.

Madame du Barry was retitled Passion to avoid the anti-German sentiment after World War I. Even though it was a French title and a French story, in Europe the movie was connected to the German director Ernst Lubitsch. Lubitsch’s name appeared nowhere in the American posters or movie titles so the movie wouldn’t bomb in America.

The great German actress Pola Negri plays the title character, a poor seamstress who becomes the courtesan of King Louis XV (Emil Jannings), and forces him to promote her secret lover to lieutenant in the royal guard so that he will be close to her. The story ends in tragedy for the lovers, but also a Bastille Day triumph. Continue reading