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51th Directors’ Fortnight May 15-25, 2019

Sam Peckinpah

Born in Fresno, California in 1925, Sam Peckinpah joined the Marines in 1943. After the war, he obtained a master’s degree in drama and worked in the theater as director and actor before working as assistant to Don Siegel, especially on The Invasion of the Body Snatchers?he contributed to the script and also had a bit part. He directed a number of episodes for such TV series as The Rifleman and The Westerner. He began to direct features with the western, New Mexico (1961), whose script he was unable to change to suit his own tastes. But he made a name for himself with his second film, Ride the High Country. It was the start of a defiant career characterized by a series of clashes with the Hollywood studio system. His most famous film, The Wild Bunch, was an international hit but his subsequent masterpieces, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garica were mutilated by his distrustful producers, who re-cut them and sabotaged their release. If Peckinpah revolutionized the western in the 60s with his baroque style and study of the decline of the great American myths, he also directed a contemporary thriller based on a Jim Thompson novel The Getaway and major films on his favorite themes of violence Straw Dogs and war Cross of Iron. Sam Peckinpah died in Inglewood, California, in 1984.