The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

The Wild Bunch

Summer of '69: The Wild Bunch

Continuing our “Summer of ’69” series, we are proud to bring The Wild Bunch back to the big screen. When the country’s moral fabric had become frayed at the tail end of the ’60s, as many Americans became disillusioned with the institutions they believed in, The Wild Bunch became a hit for showcasing the gritty violence and moral uncertainty of outlaws in the Old West. As a deconstruction of the fables that were so revered in the western genre, Sam Peckinpah directed a movie that was as thought-provoking as it was entertaining.

Starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine as the aged leaders of a group of bandits whose way of life is slipping away, The Wild Bunch follows their exploits from a botched robbery to a massive shootout with the Mexican army. On their trail is Deke Thornton, (Robert Ryan), their former brother-in-arms, who is conscripted into hunting the outlaws as a means of reparation for his crimes. When the outlaws are hired to steal a shipment of US Army guns for a Mexican general, the stakes are raised and the body count multiplied. Featuring a surprising amount of authentic Mexican actors for the time, this landmark film was selected by the U.S. National Film Registry in 1999 for preservation in the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

“Arguably the strongest Hollywood movie of the 1960s — a western that galvanizes the clichés of its dying genre with a shocking jolt of delirious carnage.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice

“Not only does The Wild Bunch illustrate Peckinpah’s mastery of his medium, but it presents a story that is effective on nearly every level.” — James Berardinelli, ReelViews

“The Wild Bunch takes the basic elements of the Western movie myth, which once defined a simple, morally comprehensible world, and by bending them turns them into symbols of futility and aimless corruption.” — Vincent Canby, New York Times