by Scott Beggs.
Perhaps the single most illustrative fact about Sam Peckinpah is that he was developing a script while fighting against the heart disease that eventually killed him at the too-young age of 59. After alcoholism, cocaine abuse and a tempestuous personal life (involving divorce, infidelity and drunkenly shooting guns at the mirrors in his house), Peckinpah refused to stop working despite his terrible health.
He was an artist up until the end, and one steeped in unnervingly realistic violence and gripping dramatic conflict. It was a strong signature that earned him parody by Monty Python, consistent controversy and (strangely) only one Oscar nomination.
From the outside, the hard-living and the storied battles with colleagues make it feel like Peckinpah was a man who belonged in the wild west of his stories. A guy born a century too late. But from The Wild Bunch to Straw Dogs to Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, this human dust storm left behind some truly amazing movies.
So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who couldn’t direct sober.
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