Strange how I haven’t written much, or anything really, about Sam Peckinpah here, since I have strong conflicted feelings and plenty to potentially say about his work. His redeeming feature, apart from his technique, is the real angst he’s working through and his conviction in portraying it. I mean, I think anyone concerned with big dumb questions like “What is a man?” has already bought into a line of bullshit which leads to a Scalectrix set moebius strip of inescapable loop-the-loop fallacy, ponderousness and self-flagellation, which is never going to result in coherent or useful answers. But what Peckinpah’s cinema often viscerally evokes is the sensation of actually being caught in that velodrome of bullshit, endlessly circling and unable to rest, a Dante’s Inferno for wannabe Hemingways. Peckinpah’s obsessive jealousy ties in too, since that’s another emotion with a horrible circular progression — one best evoked by the slapstick gramophone bit of Sturges’ UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (too tortuous to be funny, really — unless you’ve been there).
Strange that Peckinpah didn’t do the full-circle ending so popular with Polanski, having things return to the start point so the whole thing can begin again, but then, I guess he didn’t need to, because right until THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND he always had the thought of the next film, which would return everything to a re-set point and allow him to start beating his breast and roaring like a wounded bear all over again.
Over at Electric Sheep magazine, I touch upon some of this, a little, in a review of a mainly splendid new BluRay of CROSS OF IRON, one of SP’s best and bleakest. Here.