Yes, there’s the blood. Lots of blood. The conclusion of The Wild Bunch remains shocking: Ernest Borgnine shielding himself with a woman, William Holden shooting the “bitch” who’s winged him, the child soldier ending the massacre... But watch The Wild Bunch expecting nothing more than an iconic shoot-’em-up and you’ll be surprised by something other than the violence. It’s the melancholy, the desolation. It’s one of the saddest Westerns ever made. It evidently had quite an impact on viewers, based on watching A Simple Adventure Story, in which scarily obsessive Peckinpah experts – some of whom contribute to a chat-track near-religious in its devotion – visit the film’s locations and muse on Sam and the death of the West.
Nine minutes of movie ‘outtakes’ don’t amount to much, but Legacy Of A Hollywood Renegade is an excellent, 83-minute career overview of the tortured director, whose working methods are brought into sharper focus on the 33-minute An Album In Montage, a deft doc which nails his on-the-hoof filmmaking style and includes readings of his own recollections: “I was trying to tell a simple story about bad men in changing times. The Wild Bunch is simply what happens when killers go to Mexico. The strange thing is that you feel a great sense of loss when these killers reach the end of the line.” It feels like the death of everything.