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Sam Peckinpah (Official MoFo's Discussion Thread)


Please Quote/Tag Or I'll Miss Your Responses
While searching for that, I came across something I never read before

Final Word
By Bruce Bellingham

Mort Sahl and I wandered out of the Big 4 a few years ago. The afternoon sunlight blinded us. Glancing up, I saw a group of people across the street gathered on the steps of Grace Cathedral.
“Look, Mort,” says I, “they’re still waiting for Bishop Pike!”

Mort said immediately, “You mean Pike Bishop.”

I was silenced for a change, stunned for a moment. “Who’s Pike Bishop?” I asked.

“Pike Bishop was the William Holden character in The Wild Bunch.”

“Pike Bishop? How did that happen?” I asked. “Who’s Pike Bishop?”

Mort explained that his old friend Sam Peckinpah, the director on The Wild Bunchwas fascinated by the strange disappearance of Bishop Pike.

You may recall that Bishop Pike was the Episcopal bishop, based at Grace Cathedral in the 1960s. There was much consternation when he disappeared in the Sinai Desert in 1969. I’m sure there was some relief too. Nob Hill hasn’t changed all that much. James A. Pike was found later, dead, a victim of a car accident in what is now called Israel. Come to think of it, it was called Israel then. It had always been called the Promised Land. 

Up here on Nob Hill, Bishop Pike’s name for the old-timers is a low murmur, a distant tide of memory.

Few can recall it.

Gee, and I thought this was going to be a quick joke.

“So,” I asked Mort Sahl, “what fascinated Sam Peckinpah so much that he would insinuate Bishop Pike into his film, a very important film in so many ways?”

Mort gave me that treacherously winning smile.

“Sam would order two Scotches, then turn to me, and say, what are you having?” recalled Mort.
Think about it, Bishop Pike was under fire for being a roué, a boozer, a renegade – and, as the Episcopal Church asserted, “a heretic.”

I recall as a kid reading about Bishop Pike in Time magazine, being described as a heretic.

How cool is that?

I always wanted to be a heretic but no one would listen to me.

Mort said that Peckinpah, for whom Mort had worked as an actor, always loved renegades. I regret that Mort and I do not speak anymore. I hurt his feelings in some ways. It makes me feel quite bad. 
After all, The Wild Bunch is part of my childhood.

Please Quote/Tag Or I'll Miss Your Responses
Mort Sahl Called Me a 1939 American," in Film Heritage (New York), Summer 1976.

During the nation’s bicentennial, by which time Peckinpah was pretty well strung out, his best films behind him, the director said, “I feel I’m an American citizen. Dummy, I believe in all that ****. Mort Sahl called me a 1939 American. I still believe. But somebody better start waking up pretty soon.”

I'd love to read Peckinpah's full article (with Marlon Brando on the cover!), but it's too expensive

I think I've seen everything except Osterman and Convoy. So, he is obviously a director that interests me enough to try and track down all the things he's done. I'll eventually watch those other two as well.

But I think I'm more interested in the mythology of the man, than the actual work. I don't know if I've ever loved a Peckinpah. I've liked most of them. Some I've even like a good deal. And Alfredo Garcia would be close to making the great list (but I'm not 100% there, as its been a long time, and I watched a horrible transfer)

I am always hoping that I will one day click on a deeper level. I'm always hearing about Peckinpah the Poet, but have yet to be entirely convinced of this designation. He's certainly got style. But his work doesn't contain the type of mystery or inscrutability I attach most often to the idea of what is 'poetic'.

Was hoping that Criterion Channel might be streaming Wild Bunch when I signed up for it, because that's the one I want to revisit the most. I've seen it twice, and its left me slightly cold both times. But it always just feels like something I should feel in my guts more. Especially when I hear how much other people who seem to have similar tastes to mine think it is one of the best.

Oh well, it happens if it happens. Until then, I've got enough outlaws to froth from the mouth over.