Moviedrome Mondays: Major Dundee (1965) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

This week’s Moviedrome Monday entry consists of two films by late great legendary director Bloody Sam (a.k.a. Sam Peckinpah). If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Sam Peckinpah films (read here).

Major Dundee (1965)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to Peckinpah’s 1965 cavalry western Major Dundee. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was September 4, 1994 (read here). Though I still love the film, I do agree with Cox that Columbia Pictures (the distributor) meddling of Major Dundee is too hard to shake off. Major Dundee originally ran 278 minutes long (though this has been highly debated), before being cut down to a reported 156, 136 and finally, 123 (read here). That last one served as the theatrical cut. In 2005, the restored 136-minute cut became available here in the US on DVD (read here). Whether it is the theatrical or restored cut, I do agree with Cox’s eloquent assertion that even an incomplete Major Dundee being better than no Major Dundee at all.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Major Dundee

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Also, here is a youtube video link to film distributor Michael Schlesinger’s Trailers from Hell commentary for it

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

Once again, I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to Peckinpah’s vastly underrated 1974 Neo-Western gem Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was September 5, 1994 (read here). I am so glad that Cox reversed his opinion on Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia because like him, I too regard it as Peckinpah’s second greatest film after his 1969 magnum opus The Wild Bunch. Cox’s commentary is (as usual) articulate and insightful. Like him, I also think that Peckinpah may have seen Bennie (Warren Oates character) as a metaphor for himself.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Also, here is a youtube video link to screenwriter Josh Olson’s Trailers from Hell commentary for it

18 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: Major Dundee (1965) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

  1. The Sam Peckinpah double bill on Moviedrome! I’m a big fan of Sam Peckinpah. He’s one of my favourite directors and I think he’s one of the greatest directors ever. I think his best films are Alfredo Garcia, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and Cross of Iron. Nearly all of his films are good. He was a great talent, a great craftsman of film and one of the most innovative and trailblazing directors of his age. His films are brilliantly directed.

    Major Dundee is a very good film despite a troubled production and numerous cuts. Peckinpah’s first big budget feature film shows a great of his directorial flair and it shows he was a great epic and large scale filmmaker. The fine cast is great and the script is good. Although the film lacks the bloody ultraviolence associated with Peckinpah and which began with The Wild Bunch and was obviously influenced by Italian westerns, particularly those by Sergio Corbucci. Once again, Major Dundee is a very good film and an important transitional film for Peckinpah as he got to work on a larger canvas and he did that well here.

    Alex’s intro for Major Dundee is great and very insightful.

    I think the second film in this double bill is the better of the two.

    I love BMTHO Alfredo Garcia. I think it’s a great film and a classic. It’s one of Peckinpah’s best films and it’s his most personal film as Alex said. It’s got everything you could want in a Sam Peckinpah film. Guns, booze, blood, shootouts, slow motion deaths, Mexico, busty senorita. It’s the ultimate Peckinpah experience. Peckinpah’s direction is a great and atmospheric. The legend that is Warren Oates is great as Bennie. He really excels here. This is one of his best performances. He’s a great and severely underrated actor. I’m a huge fan of his. The whole cast is great too. The score by Jerry Fielding is also great. I just love BMTHO Alfredo Garcia and I think it’s one of the best films shown on Alex Cox’s run of Moviedrome.

    Alex’s intro to it is brilliant. It’s one of my favourite intros of his and I think it’s one of the best Moviedrome intros he did. Alex is right on the money with his analysis in the intro. I think he really nailed the film here. It’s a very well thought out and insightful intro. Kudos to Alex for it. Peckinpah is one of Alex’s favourite directors after all.

  2. Both films that I have a lot of respect for, but Alfredo Garcia is still very underrated, rarely shown on TV, and deserving of a lot more attention.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. I appreciate the atmosphere of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia more than I like the entirety of the film. I’m a fan of the misogynistic Peckinpah in spite of my aversion to him and his uber-macho themes. He was a very complicated, very talented director with an immediately identifiable style.

  4. I totally agree with you on Sam Peckinpah Steve πŸ™‚ I too see him as one of the many greatest filmmakers of all-time πŸ™‚ I also love all of those titles that you mentioned – for me, Alfredo Garcia is number two (number one is The Wild Bunch of course), Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid ranks at number 8 and Cross of Iron is at number 4 πŸ™‚ Then again, you probably knew that already πŸ™‚ As you could also see, I love every single film that he ever directed πŸ™‚ talented, an expert craftsman, innovative and trailblazing – I could not have summed that up any better than you have Steve πŸ™‚ And yes, Cox intro was great too πŸ™‚

    I love Major Dundee, but it is a shame that the studio cut down it’s original running time not once, not twice, but three times as you know πŸ™‚ Major Dundee does for Peckinpah what Kagemusha did for Akira Kurosawa and that was serve as a dress rehearsal for their follow-up – for Peckinpah, it was The Wild Bunch and for Kurosawa, it was Ran. Speaking of Peckinpah’s troubles with the studio, what is your opinion of the various different cuts of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid? πŸ™‚ For myself, some of the 1988 cut and some of the 2005 cut. When one talks about who shares a good portion of the blame for how that film was butchered, scorn is sometimes aimed at then head of MGM James T. Aubrey.

    I too rank Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia higher than Major Dundee and like you, I too agree with your summary of it as a great film and a classic πŸ™‚ Given where Peckinpah was at that point in his career, I am not surprised that it ranks as Peckinpah’s most personal film – Bennie may even be Peckinpah’s semi-alter-ego. I say semi because Warren Oates aforementioned character is a piano player as opposed to a director πŸ™‚ I also agree with all of the elements you sum up from Cox on how it has everything we want from a Peckinpah film – I too love the Mexican scenery and his trademark slow-motion bloody shootouts πŸ™‚ Warren Oates is fantastic as you say and so is Jerry Fielding’s music score πŸ™‚

    As for Alex Cox’s intro for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, I agree that it is one of his many great ones πŸ™‚ I also knew that Cox was a huge fan of Peckinpah πŸ™‚ I also figured out a long time ago that Ride the High Country was released internationally under the title Guns in the Afternoon πŸ™‚

  5. Hey Pam, when it comes to his treatment of women, I think Peckinpah may have been a product of his time. He almost certainly loved to antagonize anybody – sometimes it was justified sometimes it wasn’t. Aside from abusing drugs and alcohol, he got combative (and that is understandable) with studio executives when the butchered his work and this was a frequent occurence. For huge Peckinpah fans aware of this, they probably saw him as John McClaine and the studio executives as Hans Gruber πŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for dropping by and below is a youtube video link to what I mean πŸ™‚

  6. Thanks for that BBC link of that interview with Sam Peckinpah – given his reputation, I wonder how amazed people were to see him sound so articulate. The reason I say this is because at that point in his life, his addiction to drugs and alcohol was worsening (probably not surprising), but it has been reported that in his later years, Peckinpah was becoming increasing paranoid, though this may have happened shortly after Convoy was released.

  7. Hey Steve, given that you live in the UK, were you ever familiar with a movie theater called The Futurist Cinema? You might have read about it. The reason I ask is because Alex Cox frequented that cinema growing up πŸ™‚ Here is a youtube video link below for your viewing pleasure πŸ™‚

  8. I love both of them Pete, but I too would rank Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia much higher and you are right, it is an overlooked masterpiece πŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  9. I’m happy to say I’ve seen and enjoyed both of these films, it’s nice to see such a great reaction in your comments too. I’d say these are two of Alex Cox’s finest introductions, I’d never picked up on the references to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in Alfredo Garcia, I’d also never picked up that Peckinpah put a lot of himself into the character of Bennie. You’ve also inspired me to dig out my DVD of the restored cut of Major Dundee, I’m going to watch it one night this week. Thanks John!

  10. I am so glad to hear that Paul S, but then again, you are a huge Sam Peckinpah fan like I am, so I should have expected that πŸ™‚ Alex Cox’s two introductions for these films rank as one of his many great ones as well πŸ™‚ I had a feeling that Peckinpah was a huge fan of Treasure of the Sierra Madre – especially when one takes into account that he loved Mexico as much as John Huston did πŸ™‚ I know what you mean about Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’s personal connections to Peckinpah himself and after a few viewings, it becomes clear that Bennie is the closest we ever get to a cinematic equivalent of Sam himself. I am also equally happy to hear that you want to watch your copy of the restored cut of Major Dundee πŸ™‚ If anything else, it serves as a spiritual rough draft for The Wild Bunch πŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  11. Have not heard of either of these. So out of the western loop! I read your link on the Bring me the Head of Alfred Garcia. Omg…what…a roller…coaster ride that appears to be!
    I kinda hate it, though, when characters go through huge challenges and overcome them all just to have a sad ending. Like I was never fond of the little girl in Alien II, but I was kinda peeved when she was killed off in Alien III. All that? She went through ALL THAT and died anyway? Some with Bennie. It’s depressing.

  12. So sorry for the late reply πŸ™‚ Please check those films out though πŸ™‚ As for Alien 3, I totally agree with you on that. I read that the film had a deeply troubled production history and allegedly, David Fincher was hired to take over the directorial reins from Vincent Ward, who reportedly dropped out because all of the rewrites being done to the script. Fincher himself has reportedly distanced himself from Alien 3 due to how painful the experience was for him. There is a quote somewhere online where he implies that a lot of people hated Alien 3, but nobody hated it more than himself. Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

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