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By Ian Cooper

In 1974, The Wall road Journal known as this motion picture "grotesque, sadistic, irrational, obscene, incompetent," whereas New York Magazine declared it "a catastrophe." Upon its preliminary unlock, Sam Peckinpah´s infamous paintings took a serious and advertisement nosedive, yet in later years, the paintings used to be heralded as a demented masterpiece--a violent, hallucinatory autobiography and an excellent instance of "pure Peckinpah." This research revisits the making of this arguable movie, in addition to its unique reception and next reassessment. It reads the venture as an auteur paintings, a style movie, a confession, and a extraordinary self-parody.

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Extra info for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

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Description of the cinematography as ‘eerily poor’ (1981: 45) is nearer the mark. The music was by the frequent Peckinpah collaborator Jerry Fielding, who worked with the director on six projects, starting with the television play Noon Wine (1966). Particularly noteworthy are his brooding, atmospheric scores for The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs. indb 22 22 24/05/2011 18:33 BR I N G ME THE HE AD OF AL FRE DO GARC IA high-profile comeback with his work on Advise and Consent (Otto Preminger, 1962).

In interviews to promote the film, Peckinpah describes Alfredo Garcia in just such redemptive terms, calling it ‘a little picture about human dignity’ (quoted in Prince 1998: 146) and suggesting, ‘finally, finally, somebody gets pissed off with all this bull and takes a gun and shoots a lot of people and gets killed. He’s Everyman, Peckinpah’s Everyman’ (quoted in Fine 2005: 275). Steven Prince suggests the ending is ‘a measure of Peckinpah’s displaced and implicit moralism’ (1998: 193). Or is it just a measure of his self-loathing and pessimism?

But the movie’s main problem is that the protagonist – the dead head – is a bore’ (Sayre 1974). One outraged critic even called it ‘the greatest film of the thirteenth century’ (quoted in Schager 2005). In America, only Jay Cocks and Roger Ebert defended the film. The former considered it ‘full of fury and bile … a troubling, idiosyncratic and finally unsuccessful film’ (1974). Cocks also suggested that it may be a self-mocking provocation to the director’s many critics, a theory explored in-depth in chapter 3.

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