Friday, October 07, 2005

Randolph Scott! RANDOLPH SCOTT!!!!

USA Today reports on a Sam Peckinpah Legendary Westerns Collection coming in January 2006, with The Wild Bunch (two discs), Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (two discs), Ride the High Country, and Peckinpah's own off-the-wall favorite, The Ballad of Cable Hogue:

Commentaries accompany Garrett and the other [three] films... Several documentaries detail the life of Peckinpah, who died in 1984 at age 59. "He was an almost mythic figure among directors," [George] Feltenstein says. "Our collection represents him really at the height of his skill."

The current disc of The Wild Bunch was an early release that required you to flip the disc over to see the whole film, so the prospect of a special edition is very pleasing, as is the DVD debut of High Country. (Joel McCrea did an interview for TVOntario's "Saturday Night at the Movies" where, as I recall, he gave a lot of interesting information about this film and his work with Preston Sturges; shame nobody's going to use those interviews on a DVD.)

On the other hand, the principle behind the DVD of Garrett -- which is to restore the film yet again, based on Peckinpah's "notes" of what he wanted the film to be -- sets off alarm bells in my little head. (Hell, I still think Touch of Evil is incomplete without the scenes Orson Welles didn't direct.) But then I've always thought that trying to restore a haphazardly made Western with Bob Dylan in it -- particularly one directed by a erratic man who had one more good movie left in him (Alfredo Garcia) but would soon wind up directing Kris Kristofferson in Convoy -- is kind of a lost cause. (Or as Joe Queenan put it: "Under pressure from French Peckinpah enthusiasts and other masochists, the film was re-released in its original thirty-seven-week form.") The Wild Bunch is a great movie because it combines the new freedom and amorality of 1969 Hollywood with Peckinpah's surprisingly Old Hollywood sensibility when it comes to characterization, themes, and the look of the film (it's so Old Hollywood in its look that it even uses dissolves between scenes). Pat Garrett, made only a few years later, required Peckinpah to try and seem more hep to the young people, and the movie is dragged down by that. Still, all four films are worth having.

And justifying my post title, not only is High Country coming, but the first Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott Western, Seven Men From Now, has been Officially announced.

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