Dec 28

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December 28, 1984: Sam Peckinpah Dies

Sam PeckinpahOn this day in 1984, Sam Peckinpah died of heart failure in Inglewood, California. The hard-living, volatile filmmaker was 59 years old.

Peckinpah was born in Fresno, California, and worked odd jobs before taking a position in 1954 as a Dialogue Director on “Riot in Cell Block 11.” In 1961, he made his directorial debut with “The Deadly Companions.” From there, he fought with countless producers, actors and executives, drank tequila for breakfast and made some of the most important movies of the 1960s and 70s. Here they are.

  • Ride the High Country (1962): The only pairing of Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea is a classic. While it was not as provocative as Peckinpah’s later work, it is one of the 50 greatest westerns ever made.
  • The Wild Bunch (1969): Worth seeing for so many reasons, including the look Ernest Borgnine gives William Holden before they take on a Mexican army.
  • Straw Dogs (1971): The story of a pacifist mathematician and his wife being terrorized in their small British town will have you full of rage by the time is it over.
  • Junior Bonner (1972): This amusing tale of a dysfunctional Arizona rodeo family showed Peckinpah’s warmer side.
  • Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974): Some found this movie appalling. Others thought it was a masterpiece. Either way, it is hard to forget.

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