“How can we catch the wind — or destroy an enemy we never see?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
He points out (and many agree) that the “picture is confusing and boring at times,” though “it’s hard to judge because Columbia Studios broke the contract with Peckinpah and edited [the] film itself.” (See DVD Savant’s extensive overview of the film’s production, release, and re-release history if you’d like to read more.) He notes that because “Peckinpah wasn’t allowed to film several pivotal scenes that would have added more than an hour to the already lengthy running time” (the truth is more complicated than this), he “disowned this film” — and “some will recognize The Wild Bunch as his partial remake.” Meanwhile, Peary argues that “Heston’s cold, deeply flawed character is far too complex for the actor to play,” thus making it “hard for us to figure out what is going on in his head at any given time,” but he does make note of the “excellent cast” overall.
I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s assessment of this disappointing western, which contains a reasonably interesting and coherent first hour, only to go flying off into frustratingly opaque directions for the remainder of its running time. The female characters — primarily Senta Berger as a German-born beauty who falls for Heston — are nothing more than romantic bait for the men:
… and the Apaches (perhaps predictably) are almost completely dehumanized. While this film has cult fans who consider it a guilty favorite, I can’t recommend it as must-see.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: