April 2nd, 2011: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)


Cast and Crew:   Kris Kristofferson

What It’s About: When Mexican land owner El Jefe’s (Emilio Fernandez) daughter becomes pregnant, he puts a million dollar bounty on the head of her lover, Alfredo Garcia.  Down on his luck piano player Bennie (Warren Oates) gets wind of the bounty when two Americans (Robert Webber and Gig Young) come into the brothel he plays in looking for Elita (Isela Vega), a prostitute that knows Garcia.  Elita also knows Bennie (they are off again, on again lovers) and she knows that Garcia is dead-and where he is buried.  The pair set off across rural Mexico to get Garcia’s head but the American bounty hunters-and their Mexican counterparts-are also on the trail…

Why Watch it Today?: April is Alcohol Awareness month, and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is one of the most booze-soaked films of all time.   Not glamorously booze soaked, like, say, The Thin Man, but in a grimy, gritty way, with Bennie spending most of the movie soused.  Writer/director Sam Peckinpah was himself an alcoholic, an addiction that damaged his career and certainly effected his work.  Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a very personal film, with Oates standing in for Peckinpah as a small man, an entertainer, who goes through hell to get his piece of the pie while money men try to rook him.  Be advised that the film features Peckinpah’s trademark violence,  misanthropy and misogyny.

Where to Get It:   Public libraries, Netflix (Rental only) or Amazon (DVD only)

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8 comments on “April 2nd, 2011: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

  1. eddoctorwho says:

    I love how the poster appears to have been written by an utterly desperate and despairing marketing executive. “How…how the fuck do I sell this to the people who went to see Blazing Saddles?”

    • professormortis says:

      I’d say it’s more “Hey, the Wild Bunch sold a bunch of tickets, but now the director has brought us a completely idiosyncratic flick about an alcoholic loser ex-pat brothel piano player driving around rural Mexico holding a conversation with a rotting head, how the hell do we sell that? Did we mention the lead is Warren Oates, a character actor that isn’t all that bankable?”

  2. sakara says:

    hollywood is notorious for using the word ‘brave” to describe lots of actors and directors, and it’s mostly from tabloid columnists, not studio executives selling a movie.

    kevin bacon was called brave by liz smith for playing a convicted child molester in whatever movie (THE WOODSMAN?)

    • professormortis says:

      I’ll take Peckinpah style bravery over the cookie cutter junk coming out of Hollywood today (or any time in its history, really) any time.

      • sakara says:

        bravery belongs to soldiers and cops, not hollywood.

        no actor or director faces death if they do or don’t make a movie.

        though it would have been brave of peckinpah to kick his cocaine habit in the 1970s, and make anti-cocaine statements, especially considering how “everybody” (ie pro-coke users) in the 1970s thought cocaine was NON addictive.

      • professormortis says:

        I think you cam be brave in ways that don’t involve risk to life and limb, bit you are of course entitled to your opinion. Re:Peckinpah, I don’t claim he was a great person. I’m merely making a case for this flawed, but to me at least, fascinating film.

  3. sakara says:

    today’s ny times dvd review of STAGECOACH remake:
    “In 1966, the bravest man in movies must have been Alex Cord, the Long Island native who stepped into the John Wayne role” of the STAGECOACH remake.

    Yeah, I agree ALFREDO GARCIA is interesting, for a # reasons, including Oates’ playing a piano—Peckinpah got his start working for the Liberace tv show, which is usually not mentioned, cause it certainly doesn’t fit with his macho image.

    • professormortis says:

      Yes, well, just because I think you can be brave in what stories you choose to tell, or how you choose to tell them, that doesn’t mean the word isn’t over/misused by marketers and reviewers.

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