Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) – Sam Peckinpah

The next big title covered in DK Canada’s highly enjoyable and informative The Movie Book is the exemplary The Wild Bunch. Having previously covered it I moved onto the What Else to Watch list, and discovered a film I had often heard of but until now, had never seen.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is undeniably Peckinpah; cynical, violent, and verging on nihilistic.

Set in Mexico, a wealthy family learns their prize daughter is in a family way, thanks to a gigolo known as Alfredo Garcia. Determined to make sure the man is dead, that he can have no power over the family, his daughter, the patriarch (Emilio Fernandez) orders, “bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!”

A pair of bounty hunters, Sappensly (Robert Webber) and Quill (Gig Young)  head off across the country to find their target, and along the way, come across a piano player, Bennie (Warren Oates) who sees a way to improve his financial standing, and maybe get away from the life he’s living with his girlfriend, turned fiance,  Elita (Isela Vega), a local singer.

But of course things aren’t going to go easy, or right for any of the characters.

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We follow Bennie and Elita for the majority of the film, bumping into the bounty hunters and other dangerous characters on occasion, and each time there is a threat, there is a cost, and the goal appears to become that more unattainable.

Bennie is determined to find and deliver the head. He’s lucky that Elita knows of Alfredo, and more importantly, is aware that he’s already dead, and where he is buried. But what should be a fairly easy, if disgusting bit of grave robbery goes sideways, brutally and violently.

And what will the cost be to Bennie before everything is over? And knowing Peckinpah’s film style, is there a chance that any of them will walk away at the end of the film?

This one is dark, troubling, gritty and none of the characters are likable. You don’t cheer for any of them, you just find yourself trapped in a vicious ride that you can do nothing but hold on for.

Peckinpah has such a gritty style of shooting and telling his story, his characters are foul (Oates adapted many of Peckinpah’s own mannerisms and style for his portrayal) and the situations are dire. He truly views his subjects, and man in general, in a very dark and nihilistic way, and while it may not be the way I look at the world, it does make for a helluva good film.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia was a great recommendation from DK Books’ The Movie Book, and you can find this and other fantastic films within and discover something amazing to watch tonight!

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