Wild Bunch, The
Entertainment: +2 1/2
Acceptability: -3

Considered director Sam Peckinpah's best film, THE WILD BUNCH won notoriety in 1969 as the most violent western ever filmed. Twenty-six years later, it still is. In the early 1900s, a group of outlaws led by Pike (William Holden) decides to make one more job before retiring. When the robbery of a railroad bank fails, they cross into Mexico. There, a Mexican general hires the outlaws to steal guns from the American army. Meanwhile, a posse of bounty hunters led by one of Pike's former friends, Thornton (Robert Ryan), has been hired by the railroad company to get Pike's group. Pike is torn between his desire to leave and his code of loyalty to the bunch. THE WILD BUNCH begins and ends with extensive shootouts that gave it its violent reputation. Unfortunately, this bloody bunch will still attract western film buffs because of its non-stop action.

The emphasis on "realistic" graphic violence in today's films might be attempts to outdo Peckinpah. The opening scenes show children "playing" with scorpions by dropping them in an anthill and watching the ants overwhelm the scorpions. Men and women leaving a temperance meeting are caught in the crossfire as the railroad posse ambushes the outlaws. Blood spurts everywhere, a woman is trampled by a horse, a man dragged by another horse, and a gun shot in a man's face. Neither side shows any concern for civilian safety. The final shootout is a prolonged blood bath of mortally wounded victims. Bounty hunters rob bodies of personal effects, and one wears a large cross, implying he is a Christian. Despite the callous disregard for life, Pike stresses loyalty to those one rides with and keeping one's word. The men consort with prostitutes, and sex with them is implied a few times. The girls are shown in various stages of undress, including some breast nudity. Back in 1969, obscenities were uncommon in films; however, regular profanities and excessive crudities pollute the dialogue. Not a pretty picture, THE WILD BUNCH should have been buried forever.

Preview Reviewer: Paul Bicking
Distributor: Warner Bros., 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522

Crude Language: Many (65) times - Mild 48, Moderate 17
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: Several (7) times - Regular 5 (G-d), Exclamatory 2
Violence: Continuous - Moderate and Severe (children torture insects; gunshots with graphic blood spurts; woman trampled by horse; shotgun in face; man dragged by horse; men killed in explosion; throat cut; bodies looted)
Sexual Intercourse: Implied few times with prostitutes
Nudity: Few times - rear male (children swimming); breast nudity (woman breast feeding and prostitutes bare breasts) Near Nudity (prostitutes in revealing clothes)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Few times (interaction with prostitutes)
Drug Abuse: Several times (alcohol drinking)
Other: Disregard for human life; Bible verses quoted in temperance meeting; gunman wears Cross, implying he's a Christian
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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