"If They Move... Kill 'Em!": The Life and Times of Sam Peckinpah

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If They Move... Kill 'Em!: The Life and Times of Sam Peckinpah. Weddle, David. Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000

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"What Citizen Kane was to movie lovers in 1941, The Wild Bunch was to cineastes in 1969, " critic Michael Sragow wrote in the New Yorker. "Its adrenaline rush of revelations seemed to explode the parameters of the screen." "If They Move . . . Kill 'Em" is the first major biography of David Samuel Peckinpah. Written by the film critic and historian David Weddle, this fascinating account does critical justice to an important body of cinema as it spins the tale of Peckinpah's dramatic, overcharged life and the turbulent times through which he moved. Sam Peckinpah was born into a clan of lumberjacks, cattle ranchers, and frontier lawyers. After a hitch with the marines, he made his way to Hollywood, where he worked on a string of low-budget features. In 1955 he began writing scripts for Gunsmoke; in less than a year he was one of the hottest writers in television, with two classic series, The Rifleman and The Westerner, to his credit. From there he went on to direct a phenomenal series of features, including Ride the High Country, Straw Dogs, The Getaway, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and The Wild Bunch. Peckinpah was both a hopeless romantic and a grim nihilist, a filmmaker who defined his era as much as he was shaped by it. Rising to prominence in the social and political upheaval of the late sixties and early seventies, Peckinpah and his generation of directors - Stanley Kubrick, Arthur Penn, Robert Altman - broke with convention and turned the traditional genres of Western, science fiction, war, and detective movies inside out. No other era in Hollywood has matched it for sheer energy, audacity, and originality, and no one cut a wider path through that time than Sam Peckinpah.

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David Weddle
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