Over the past few weeks, the Film Center at New York’s Lincoln Center screened all 14 movies by maverick film director Sam Peckinpah. Peckinpah may be less revered than Stanley Kubrick or Martin Scorsese but he always had a devoted following—he was one of critic Pauline Kael’s favorites. In 1999, she wrote, “Today, I feel the same, almost inordinate love of his films that I felt fifteen years ago, but the turmoil has gone out of the atmosphere surrounding them. When he was making movies, it felt, for some of us, as if we were watching an ongoing street accident.”
The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs are indeed as arresting and disturbing now as they were when they first appeared. One of Peckilnpah’s most celebrated projects was The Getaway, a tense thriller starring Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw. Leave it to Grover Lewis—whose features on The Last Picture Show and the Allman brothers have appeared in this space—to revisit Peckpah’s set to reveal just how wild Peckinpah and his bunch truly were. Originally published as “Sam Peckinpah in Mexico: Overlearning with El Jefe” in the October 12, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone, it is reprinted here with permission.