Sam Peckinpah's Feature Films

Author: Bernard F. Dukore
Paper – $29
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1999
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About the Book

One of the greatest film directors America has produced, Sam Peckinpah revolutionized the way movies were made. In this detailed and insightful study, Bernard F. Dukore examines Peckinpah's fourteen feature films as a coherent body of work. He investigates the director's virtuosic editing techniques, thematic preoccupations that persist from his earliest to his last films, and the structure of his dramatic depiction of violence. He also addresses Peckinpah's cognizance of existentialism and the substantial traces this interest has left in the films.

At the heart of Dukore's study is an extensive and detailed examination of Peckinpah's distinctive editing techniques. Focusing on representative sequences--including the breakout from the bank and the final battle in The Wild Bunch, the half-hour siege that concludes Straw Dogs, the killing of the title characters of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and combat sequences in Cross of Iron--Dukore provides a shot-by-shot analysis that illuminates Peckinpah's mastery of pacing and mood.

Sam Peckinpah's Feature Films demonstrates that Peckinpah's genius as a director and editor marks not only The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and other classics but also his lesser-known feature films, even those that suffered substantial cuts at the hands of studio producers. Dukore's organic approach to the feature films reveals a highly unified body of work that remains a pointed commentary on power, violence, affection, and moral values.


"Dukore examines well-known Peckinpah films . . . but what makes the book especially useful to fans of the director is the analysis of his lesser-known works." — Lou Gaul, Burlington County Times

"Is any fight scene in the history of the movies really worth the effort of breaking down into a dozen pages of minutely detailed shot lists with precise notes on duration, camera angles and film speed? Well, yes. If the fight scene is the climactic battle that concludes The Wild Bunch and subsequently redefines Hollywood conventions of the Western and of screen violence, or if the fight scene is the brilliantly unnerving 30-minute siege sequence from the end of Straw Dogs, both signature works of Sam Peckinpah. Such a pursuit might yield interesting, even revealing results, as it does in Bernard F. Dukore's new Sam Peckinpah's Feature Films." — Carsten Day, MovieMaker

"What makes the book especially useful to fans of the director is the analysis of his lesser-known works." — Lou Gaul, The Intelligence Record

"Examines the existential values in Peckinpah's films, the purpose of violence in each, and the continuing motifs of this auteur. Peckinpah's fame is still growing, deservedly. Dukore is meticulous in spotting existential choices in the films and relating them to Peckinpah's other films and to interviews. . . . Dukore's literally split-second analysis of the action sequence in The Wild Bunch, for example, cause this reviewer to recommend this book above all Peckinpah critiques." — Choice