Friday, March 10, 2006

The Wild Bunch

Have you ever seen "The Wild Bunch"?

A Western set at the end of the "Western" era, when technology was advancing and the cowboy/outlaw dynamic was becoming obsolete.

The story centers around a group of outlaws trying to survive in this era. It is a brilliant film. It's more violent, more visceral than any other Western I've ever seen, and it floors me every time I watch it.

There's a scene right at the end, after they shoot the main bad guy. The bad guy's minions don't know what to do. They aren't moving. They're looking around in confusion.

The Wild Bunch (William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, and Ben Johnson) can get away.

They're free to run.

And they DON'T.

Oh, they think about it. They don't really know what to do, either. They've just shot the bad guy, but his followers aren't coming after them. So they stand there, each member coiled up, ready to move, somewhere, anywhere...

And then Ernest Borgnine gets a wicked grin on his face, and looks over at William Holden, who looks back knowingly.

And then all hell breaks loose.

An incredibly bloody shootout commences because the Wild Bunch choose to continue the fight.

Insurmountable odds. Certain death. And yet, they choose to fight instead of run.

Damn.

It's just an amazing thing to do with the story. They know that their time is through, so they choose to go out shooting instead of running and being hunted down for the rest of their lives.

They choose to die.

But that moment of intensity and uncertainty, followed by Ernest Borgnine's grin has got to be one of the best moments in cinema.

Watch the film. You'll see.

Sam Peckinpah was a genius, and Ernest Borgnine absolutely rules.

1 Comments:

Blogger Jason H. said...

One of my favorite Borgnine roles was in "The Poseidon Adventure" - which they're remaking this year with Jeff Bridges or Kurt Russell, who I always get confused, and they're simply calling it "Posiedon." definite rental.

-JCH

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 12:44:00 AM  

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