cover of book

Doing It Right: The Best Criticism on Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch
edited by Michael Bliss
Southern Illinois University Press, 1994
eISBN: 978-0-8093-8284-2 | Paper: 978-0-8093-1863-6
Library of Congress Classification PN1997.W536133D6 1994
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.4372


Doing It Right brings together the very finest in reviews and criticism of The Wild Bunch since its release in 1969.

Often misinterpreted because of its graphic violence, the film initially generated considerable controversy. Sam Peckinpah, who made the film after a four-year forced hiatus in his career (he had been blacklisted), created it as a depiction of the savage behavior possible in the post– World War I era. However, the ensuing controversy was not restricted only to the explicit story and images. Producer Phil Feldman’s withdrawal of Peckinpah’s cut of the film drew tremendous sympathy for Peckinpah from American and European film critics alike.

This casebook should be read as a supplement to a viewing of the film, which is now available in its uncut form in video. Edited and with an introduction by Michael Bliss, the book explores the film’s production history, giving an overview of its release problems and highlighting its stylistic characteristics, classic structure, use of the widescreen frame, and innovative editing techniques. It also discusses in detail the film’s underlying moral message and its representation of camaraderie and loyalty. In addition to Bliss, essayists include Robert Culp, Paul Schrader, Stephen Farber, Paul Seydor, Jim Kitses, Cordell Strug, John L. Simons, Aljean Harmetz, and Michael Sragow. The book concludes with an appendix and an extensive bibliography.

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