Sierra Charriba
Filmfest 2005

Play it again, Sam. A blustery, madcap preamble to the full-blooded anti-westerns that Mr. Peckinpah scorched our earth with a few years later and a genuinely Rorschachian historical stencil, MAJOR DUNDEE has always been famously handicapped by producer re-editing. Coming before us today with 12 additional minutes no one outside of the Columbia editing rooms ever saw, Peckinpah's first patently runaway-train production seems less a restored classic than a missing link in the breakdown of Hollywood genre hegemony. After it, the traditional western could only scramble for crumbs of relevance. Because they are at heart whiskey-sodden, depressive, and nihilistic, Peckinpah's films have always been impossible to pin to the wall ethically or politically, even as they deliberately engage in 'Nam-era parable-telling. MAJOR DUNDEE is virtually without a rival as a reflection of U.S. involvment in Southeast Asia, because it simultaneously gloats on irresponsible bloodshed, abhors military slaughter, and couldn't give a good goddamn about life or death. (...) Suddenly, the third-world invasion of Dennis Hopper's THE LAST MOVIE doesn't seem like an uncontrolled, stony act of megalomania so much as a bid toward Peckinpah-hood. What rescues MAJOR DUNDEE in the end from its many conflicts and unresolved passions is Heston - always effective as ruthless, self-righteous sons of bitches, this most reviled of dime-store demigods makes a fearsomely convincing misanthrope-authority figure, a loathsome frontier despot capable of convincing everyone that he's destined to create history. Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

tags: Feature film

Cast: Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, James Coburn, Mario Adorf, Senta Berger


Director: Sam Peckinpah