By far the most underrated of Sam Peckinpah’s films, this grim 1974 tale about a minor-league piano player in Mexico (Warren Oates) who sacrifices his love (Isela Vega) when he goes after a fortune as a bounty hunter is certainly one of the director’s most personal and obsessive works—even comparable in some respects to Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano in its bottomless despair and bombastic self-hatred, as well as its rather ghoulish lyricism. (Critic Tom Milne has suggestively compared the labyrinthine plot to that of a gothic novel.) Oates has perhaps never been better, and a strong secondary cast—Vega, Gig Young, Robert Webber, Kris Kristofferson, Donnie Fritts, and Emilio Fernandez—is equally effective in etching Peckinpah’s dark night of the soul.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
R • 1 hour 52 min • 2012