14 February 2017

ARROW FILMS PRESENTS: BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA. (1974) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA. (1974) DIRECTED BY/SCREENPLAY BY/STORY BY SAM PECKINPAH. STARRING WARREN OATES, ISELA VEGA AND KRIS KRISTOFFERSON. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I was thrilled to be asked to review this cult film by 'Bloody Sam,' the affectionate nickname given to the director whose films were characterised by some of the most extreme violence the cinema has ever seen. This movie is apparently Japanese director Takeshi Kitano's favourite flick, no surprise as Mr. Kitano himself is no stranger to making the odd violent film or two.

BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA was a bit of a commercial and critical flop at the time of its release, a shameful state of affairs which has since been rectified. The film thankfully now has a devoted cult following, and more people are beginning to see it for the masterpiece it really is.

How it ever made it into a book by the name of THE FIFTY WORST FILMS EVER MADE is a mystery to me. I bloody love it, personally, and seemingly I'm not the only fan. I can think of a million films that better qualify for a place in that book and I bet you can too. Anyway, before I get all steamed up in defence of the film, let's take a brief look at the plot.

It might sound mad, but a bunch of people are searching for the actual head of a guy who's been dead before the movie even gets started. His name is- you'll never guess!- Alfredo Garcia, and he's somewhat unwisely impregnated the teenage daughter of a powerful man known as El Jefe, or The Boss.

For this indiscretion and act of disloyalty towards his employer, El Jefe wants him killed. After offering a reward of a million dollars to whatever man who manages it, he utters the immortal words which have been much-parodied in popular culture ever since:

'Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia...!'

Warren Oates plays Bennie, a down-on-his-luck piano player and manager of a crappy bar in Mexico City. Whereas some men see hard work, savings and wise investments as the way to go, Bennie gets it into his head that the money for finding and bringing in Alfredo Garcia's head will be what sets him up for life. It's like something Homer Simpson would do. Anything to avoid going to the office every day...!

Bennie sets off on a road trip to find the missing man. He brings along his beautiful Mexican girlfriend Elita, a cleaner, because she's Garcia's former lover and knows where he is. She has 'grave' misgivings about the whole escapade- pun intended- and begs Bennie to call it off. But Bennie is as stupidly stubborn as Homer Simpson and can't be persuaded to drop his quest.

Remember Homer's grease business, his beef-jerky business, his sugar business, his 'tomacco' business, his 'See the Elephant' business, his telemarketing business (Send One Dollar To Happy Dude...!) and his actual 'small business' business? Not a single one of 'em ever made him as much dough as his regular steady job at the power plant, but did he care? Nope. He's always searching for that big pay-off, just like Bennie. Poor deluded Bennie.

The doomed love story between Bennie and Elita is my favourite part of the film. Being female, I nearly always favour the romance bits over the thriller or action element of any film, and a doomed romance is by miles my favourite kind, haha. I adore to watch the pain and suffering of a failed or failing relationship, probably because it can't hurt me if it's happening to someone else...!

I'm not giving away any spoilers, by the way, by saying that Bennie's and Elita's romance is doomed. You can tell by watching them that, decent folk though they basically are underneath, they're gonna screw up everything good and clean that they ever encounter in life. Booze and (not always monogamous) sex and the lure of easy money will always dominate their thoughts first and foremost.

Their dreams and ambitions will surely go unfulfilled and their prayers unanswered. Elita wants Bennie to marry her in a church someday. That's her dearest wish. Bennie mumbles 'yes' when he's put on the spot, but can the viewers imagine the pair of them ever standing before the padre ready to be joined in holy matrimony prior to living happily ever after? Sadly, I doubt it, somehow. We want them to be happy, we truly do. We just don't see it happening because of their crappy circumstances.

I simply must talk about that 'rape' scene. Firstly, Kris Kristofferson makes such a handsome rapist. I'm putting him right at the top of my rota of 'Guys To Fantasise About Being Ravished By,' heh-heh-heh. Secondly, Sam Peckinpah has the lovely Elita do an Amy from possibly his most controversial movie ever, STRAW DOGS (1971).

Elita goes off with Kris Kristofferson willingly enough, in full knowledge and expectation of what he intends to do to her. She slaps him twice, knowing full well that he'll hit her back, only harder. She lies down with him willingly also, and their scene together, when she's wearing only jeans and nothing else on her perfect sun-kissed body, is as sensual as anything you'll see in any love story.

So, are these women, Elita and Amy, really being raped or are they just acting out their deepest darkest fantasies? I wouldn't even attempt to answer that here. Some critics thought that the rape scene in STRAW DOGS was just Sam Peckinpah's way of debasing women with his 'ugly male chauvinist fantasy.'

We'll let the feminists slug that one out between themselves, shall we? All I'm saying is that Elita's 'rape' scene is gorgeously sensual and sexy to look at. And the song is so funny! The rapist's mate is holding Bennie at gunpoint, while playing guitar and singing him an hilarious song about how the 'rape' is progressing, up in the grassy hills behind them:

'And he's layin' her down...!'

As we've just seen, there's a strong element of black comedy in this film, which Sam Peckinpah always maintained was his favourite of his own films, because it was the only one that wasn't 'ruined' in the editing stages by the studios and therefore it ended up exactly as he'd intended. I love this film, anyway. It's bleak, gritty and violent but it has a heart, even if that heart is buried under six feet of stifling, suffocating grave-dirt...

BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA is out now on Blu-Ray courtesy of ARROW VIDEO and the good people at FETCH PUBLICITY.

It has a load of brilliant extra features, including a bonus disc with a full-length documentary on it called SAM PECKINPAH: MAN OF IRON. It's made by a chap called Paul Joyce, and it has interviews with a ton of actors and film-makers on it who could all be considered a part of the Sam Peckinpah 'film-making family.' I've watched it myself and it's solid gold, swear to God.

This superb cult film deserves every smidgeon of attention it now receives. Watch it for yourselves, film buddies, and you'll surely see why.

  AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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