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September 22, 2016

Movie Review: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Blu-ray, Twilight Time)

More often than not, when the late Sam Peckinpah casted actors for his films their personas emulated the tough and rebellious attitude that the director was known for. These guys (and gals) had some grit! Whether it’s Steve McQueen in The Getaway, L.Q Jones, Ernest Borgnine and William Holden in The Wild Bunch or Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs, machismo was never in doubt for any characters. Okay, I was kidding about Hoffman.

Bring Me the Head of Afredo Garcia star, Warren Oates, is definitely towards the top of the Peckinpah tough guy regulars. Here’s a man who probably ate nail sandwiches, slathered in dirt and would wash them down with motor oil -- all with a smile on his face. Even with a very slight stature Oates is so believably bad-ass. His portrayal of the lead character of “Bennie”, a hard-on-his-luck bartender looking to cash in on the bounty of the head of a dead john is truly one of the finer performances in the actor’s career (until he passed away at at 52 in 1982). Twilight Time has taken the Peckinpah classic and given a very deserving Blu-ray release with all the fixins'.

Following the discovery of his daughter being knocked up, a wealthy Mexican businessman makes it known to his circle that he wants the man who did this, dead. He wants his head and he's willing to pay one million bucks for it. This becomes an offer these criminal types couldn't refuse. Bennie (Warren Oates), one of the few Anglos listening, goes full steam ahead with his gorgeous girlfriend (Isela Vega) to find this vatos cabesa and bring it back, flies and all, to claim his cash. This becomes a very difficult feat, as in typical Sam Peckinpah fashion, the violence is early and often with Bennie fending off goons who have no problem putting a bullet (or twenty) in him or his girlfriend.

The extra features consist of some excellent interviews with Isela Vega and others who are featured in Passion & Poetry: Sam’s Favorite Film, two solid audio commentaries -- one with Producer Gordon Dawson and Film Historian Nick Redman and another with Film Historians Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, David Weddle, and Nick Redman . There is a nice featurette that I enjoyed especially that will surely appeal to Peckinpah completists with his biographer Garner Simmons called A Writer’s Journey: Garner Simmons with Sam Peckinpah in Mexico. Even if you’re just in it for the enhanced picture in sound on this release I urge you to check these quality supplementary materials out.

Twilight Time did a wonderful job with another Peckinpah classic in Major Dundee and here with Bring Me the Head of Alfredo they duplicate it with stunning picture quality and sound.  The colors are bright and pop appropriately without it losing the fantastic look of the 1970’s cinema. The grandiose cinematography and spectacularly brutal action sequences have never looked better than it does here in high definition.

The performances by Oates, Vega and even briefly Kris Kristopherson are top notch and to me this is easily in Peckinpah's top three films along with The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs. Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is an essential purchase and undoubtedly a fine addition to Twilight Time's flourishing catalog of classics. Highly Recommended

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