The Wild Bunch - Reception

Reception

Vincent Canby began his review by calling the film "very beautiful and the first truly interesting American-made Western in years. It's also so full of violence –of an intensity that can hardly be supported by the story – that it's going to prompt a lot of people who do not know the real effect of movie violence (as I do not) to write automatic condemnations of it." He said "although the movie's conventional and poetic action sequences are extraordinarily good and its landscapes beautifully photographed..., it is most interesting in its almost jolly account of chaos, corruption, and defeat"; among the actors, he commented particularly on William Holden: "After years of giving bored performances in boring movies, Holden comes back gallantly in The Wild Bunch. He looks older and tired, but he has style, both as a man and as a movie character who persists in doing what he's always done, not because he really wants the money but because there's simply nothing else to do." Time also liked Holden's performance, describing it as his best since Stalag 17 (a 1953 film that earned Holden an Oscar), said Robert Ryan gave "the screen performance of his career" and concluded that "The Wild Bunch contains faults and mistakes" (such as flashbacks "introduced with surprising clumsiness"), but "its accomplishments are more than sufficient to confirm that Peckinpah, along with Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Penn, belongs with the best of the newer generation of American film makers."

In a 2002 retrospective, Roger Ebert, who "saw the original version at the world premiere in 1969, during the golden age of the junket, when Warner Bros. screened five of its new films in the Bahamas for 450 critics and reporters", said that back then he had publicly declared the film a masterpiece during the junket's press conference, prompted by comments from "a reporter from the Reader's Digest got up to ask 'Why was this film ever made?'" He compared the film to Pulp Fiction: "praised and condemned with equal vehemence."

Produced on a budget of $6 million, the film grossed $10,500,000 at the box office. It was the 17th highest grossing film of 1969. The film holds a 97% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 39 critics. The film also ranks at number 94 on Empire magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Films of All Time.

Read more about this topic:  The Wild Bunch

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