Plot: What’s it about?
When it came to the early seventies, no one dominated gritty cinema better than director Sam Peckinpah. For his first movie with United Artists, he told a tale of deception, corruption, death, love and every bloody thoughts mixed in and it’s all about one person and one cry. That is Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia.
Once upon a time south of the border, there was a young girl pregnant out of wedlock. When she is presented with what has happened to herself and pressured by her father to say who’s responsible for this action, one name is pronounced. And with the name of Alfredo Garcia, the hunt is on for the man particularly to two American representatives (Robert Webber and Gig Young). It seems the head is what the father is after. One of their searches lands them at a local bar where a piano player named Benny (Warren Oates) is asked and the picture doesn’t come to mind but the name does. With that little detail brings Benny into this frantic search. With a time clock placed on as well as a price, he sets out with his girl (Isela Vega) but with one thing the employers didn’t count on that they know.
To give any more of the film away would do an injustice for its a film that cooks within its running time. Upon first viewing, this viewer sensed a more casual pace than the usual Peckinpah fare. I learned viewing the movie again that by sticking with it all the way through and letting it be on a pageturner level, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia is a great ride.
Admittedly, this is not a film for everybody (as one of the commentators states, back to that in a bit), but for one’s appreciative of Peckinpah’s vision cinematically, this is a treat that goes in many directions and plays with both the viewer’s expectation and the perception which is evident in the first few minutes.
This is a struggle of one man’s quest for the key to his future and it all lies within one man, but getting to that future carries with it its own obstacles and the battles within himself to get to his destination as well as getting the job done no matter what comes along the way whether its some shady individuals or an unexpected roadblock and Warren Oates plays it going through a myriad of emotions as well as some memorable quotes along the way.
When any viewer gets ready for a Peckinpah experience, there is always the expectation along the way of some grit and some chaos and in this film it serves plenty of both. With this approach along with some surprises, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia is a sinister mystery tour unlike any other.
Video: How does it look?
Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia is presented in its first ever DVD release in the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment which was considered an in between from his big wide films (Straw Dogs was another in between wide as well) and the results from MGM are quite good as the print used on this disc has slight specks but nothing to take away from the overall effect which is quite pristine for a seventies films. There are certain ones that aren’t touched for a while and the results can either be great or disasterous and this certainly fits into the former.(It also doesn’t hurt that the original UA-Transamerica logo is included on this DVD as well. I can almost sense that Peckinpah wanted to shoot the film black and white as well at one point). There is an interesting color scheme but nothing too loud and nothing too dull as it keeps the gritty look without losing the overall look of the film. Very good job.
Audio: How does it sound?
With the well preserved transfer of this film, so goes the same for the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track as it can easily be passed for a stereo soundtrack thanks to the clarity and the scale effect that shows up audibly throughout the film and amongst all channels with the dialogue dominating the center and the surround effects on the outers giving the track a unique sound that wasn’t common among films of that time but doesn’t lose track ala Spaghetti Western tracks getting off course both in the dialogue and the effects. This disc also has English, French and Spanish Language subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Along with a good looking anamorphic theatrical trailer, it’s time again on another Sam Peckinpah title for another edition of the great DVD commentary series, Peckinpah’s Present on Peckinpah’s Past with our host Nick Redman and the historian panel of all things Peckinpah- Garner Simmons, David Weddle and Paul Seydor.
In this entry covering this film we find out from the esteemed panel of the involvement of one of them during the filming along with the observations and the oddities surrounding the making of this film as well as the panels interpretation and some bits of casting that might have made a different experience had they been a reality.
Once again, in the name of Alfredo Garcia, a great listen overall.
With its unconventional tone and it’s great touches of gritty irreverency, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia brings another classic Peckinpah title to justice on DVD thanks to it’s superb transfer and another worthy lesson filled and extremely informative commentary entry recommended for all ears and all viewers.