February 21st, Sam Peckinpah’s birthday. He would have been 89. Sadly, he died of heart failure in 1984, there were so many other great films in him, I’m certain.

Sam P 5Sam P 1 Sam P 6 Sam P 2 Sam and palSam P 12

Moving Pictures Documentary on Sam Peckinpah in 6 parts.







David Samuel Peckinpah was born and grew up in Fresno, California, when it was still a sleepy town. Young Sam was a loner. The child’s greatest influence was grandfather Denver Church, a judge, congressman and one of the best shots in the Sierra Nevadas. Sam served in the US Marine Corps during World War II but – to his disappointment – did not see combat. Upon returning to the US he enrolled in Fresno State College, graduating in 1948 with a B.A. in Drama. He married Marie Selland in Las Vegas in 1947 and they moved to Los Angeles, where he enrolled in the graduate Theater Department of the University of Southern California the next year. He eventually took his Masters in 1952.

Sam P 11

After drifting through several jobs — including a stint as a floor-sweeper on The Liberace Show (1952) — Sam got a job as Dialogue Director on Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) for director Don Siegel.


He worked for Siegel on several films, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), in which Sam played Charlie Buckholtz, the town meter reader.

Body Snatchers 2 Body Snatchers

Peckinpah eventually became a scriptwriter for such TV programs as Gunsmoke (1955) and The Rifleman (1958) (which he created as an episode of Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater (1956) titled “The Sharpshooter’ in 1958). In 1961, as his marriage to Selland was coming to an end, he directed his first feature film, a western titled The Deadly Companions (1961) starring \Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara. However, it was with his second feature, Ride the High Country (1962), that Peckinpah really began to establish his reputation. Featuring Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott (in his final screen performance), its story about two aging gunfighters anticipated several of the themes Peckinpah would explore in future films, including the controversial “The Wild Bunch”.

Ride the High Country (1962)

 Ride the High 1 Ride the High 2

Following “Ride the High Country” he was hired by producer Jerry Bresler to direct Major Dundee (1965), a cavalry-vs.-Indians western starring Charlton Heston. It turned out to be a film that brought to light Peckinpah’s volatile reputation. During hot, on-location work in Mexico, his abrasive manner, exacerbated by booze and marijuana, provoked usually even-keeled Heston to threaten to run him through with a cavalry sabre. However, when the studio later considered replacing Peckinpah, it was Heston who came to Sam’s defence, going so far as to offer to return his salary to help offset any overages. Ironically, the studio accepted and Heston wound up doing the film for free.

Post-production conflicts led to Sam engaging in a bitter and ultimately losing battle with Bresler and Columbia Pictures over the final cut and, as a result, the disjointed effort fizzled at the box office.

Major Dundee (1965)

Major Dundee 1  Major Dundee 3Sam P 8

He was hired by Warner Bros. to direct the film for which he is,
justifiably, best remembered. The success of “The Wild Bunch”
rejuvenated his career and propelled him through highs and lows in the 1970s.

The Wild Bunch (1969)

Wild Bunch 6

“If they move”, commands stern-eyed William Holden, “kill ’em”. So begins The Wild Bunch (1969), Sam Peckinpah’s bloody, high-body-count eulogy to the mythologized Old West. “Pouring new wine into the bottle of the Western, Peckinpah explodes the bottle”, observed critic Pauline Kael. That exploding bottle also christened the director with the nickname that would forever define his films and reputation: “Bloody Sam”.

Wild Bunch 1

The Wild Bunch opening


Robbery Scene


In His Own Words: “The point of [The Wild Bunch] is to take this facade of movie violence and open it up, get people involved in it… and then twist it so that it’s not fun anymore, just a wave of sickness in the gut.”

Wild Bunch 3Wild Bunch 8

L.Q.Jones on Peckinpah


Wild Bunch 2

The Final Shootout


Video Discussion on The Wild Bunch


Wild Bunch 4 Wild Bunch 5 Wild Bunch 7

The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)

Cable Hogue 1 Cable Hogue 2 Cable Hogue 3 Cable Hogue 4 Cable Hogue 5


Cable Hogue 6 Cable Hogue 7 Cable Hogue 8 Cable Hogue Japanese Soundtrack



Stella Stevens . Wow.


Straw Dogs (1971)

Behind The Scenes of Straw Dogs


Straw Dogs 8Straw Dogs 1 Straw Dogs 2 Straw Dogs 3 Straw Dogs 4 Straw Dogs 6 Straw Dogs 7

Susan George on Straw Dogs


Junior Bonner (1972)

Junior Bonner Japanese posterJunior Bonner 1 Junior Bonner 2 Junior Bonner 3 Junior Bonner Italian

The Getaway (1972)

The Getaway 1 The Getaway 1The Getaway 2 The Getaway 3 The Getaway 1The Getaway 12 The Getaway 13 The Getaway 14 The Getaway 15  The Getaway 16 The Getaway 17 The Getaway 18 The Getaway 19 The Getaway 20 The Getaway 11The Getaway 21  The Getaway 23



Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid 1 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid 2 Pat Garrett 1 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid 3Sam and Bob Dylan

Knocking On Heaven’s Door


Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)



Alfredo Garcia 1 Alfredo Garcia 2 Alfredo Garcia 3

The Killer Elite (1975)



Killer Elite 1 Killer Elite 2 Killer Elite 3 Killer Elite 4 Killer Elite 5 Killer Elite 6

Shooting Scene. James Caan and Bo Hopkins, Burt Young and Robert Duvall


Cross Of Iron (1977)

Cross of Iron 1


Cross of Iron 4Sam P 9



Cross of Iron 2 Cross of Iron 3

Quentin Tarantino on the influence of Cross of Iron


Convoy (1978)

Music Trailer


Convoy 1 Convoy 2 Convoy 3

The Osterman Weekend (1983)

Osterman Weekend 1


Osterman Weekend 2 Osterman Weekend 3 Osterman Weekend 4 Osterman Weekend 5 Osterman Weekend 6

Peckinpah lived life to its fullest. He drank hard and abused drugs, producers and collaborators. At the end of his life he was considering a number of projects including the Stephen King-scripted “The Shotgunners”. He was returning from Mexico in December 1984 when he died from heart failure in a hospital in Inglewood, California, at age 59. At a standing-room-only gathering that held at the Directors Guild the following month, Coburn remembered the director as a man “who pushed me over the abyss and then jumped in after me. He took me on some great adventures”. To which Robert Culp added that what is surprising is not that Sam only made fourteen pictures, but that given the way he went about it, he managed to make any at all.

What a legacy. One of the truly great directors of all time. If you could choose only one Sam Peckinpah film, which one would you choose?

Sam P 13