Sick and tired of new releases I couldn't get through 45 minutes of, I went back to a classic: Sam Peckinpah's The Getaway. What a breath of fresh air this 1972 heist/chase movie turned out to be. In addition to hyper realistic characterizations of the McCoys (played by Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw), everything else about this movie rings true. 35 years later, Peckinpah's signature slo-motion shoot outs stand up against anything in the theaters today. There's little to dislike about this movie and I can't help but wonder why movies aren't made like this anymore: no special FX, no over-the-top stunt sequences, no melodramatic dialogue, not fat, no filler. This is a movie made by real people, for real people. Plain and simple.
Technically, the stand-out aspect within The Getaway is the editing. Influenced by the French New Wave, Peckinpah defies convention by playing with time and space as he uses disjointed cuts to jump ahead in time before allowing the events within the movie to catch up to the present. The most interesting example of this occurs when Doc and Carol are at a busy park alongside a river. Doc has just been released from prison and he's soaking in the sights and sounds of freedom. Peckinpah cuts to a shot of Doc jumping into the river with his clothes on, followed by Carol. At first this feels like a fantasy in Doc's head since we abruptly cut back to the present where Doc is still standing and looking at the river. But soon he actually does run to and jump into the river. From there we cut directly to Carol's apartment where the two enter soaking wet and smiling. It is atypical and unexpected to see unconventional editing like this in mainstream American movies, but when it's done (and done right) there' something incredibly rewarding about having your brain (and expectations) teased in such a randomly disjointed (yet fluid) way.
Another example of unconventional yet incredibly effective montage happens in the opening thirty minutes. In this sequence Doc McCoy (McQueen) is locked up in prison and slowly losing his wits. Peckinpah portrays Doc's inner head space through a dizzying montage of shots of Doc in and around the prison, where synced sound cuts smash into one another in a relentlessly pounding and oppressive manner. You get the sense something has to break and before long you realize it's Doc's resolve.
Peckinpah proves with The Getaway that you don't need astounding source material to make a great movie. On the written page I'm sure this film seemed like a very standard heist/chase film. But by allowing the actors to bring realistic, idiosyncratic performances to the table and by utilizing unorthodox techniques, such as French New Wave inspired editing, Peckinpah elevates pulp into high art. I know I'm sounding like a broken record by saying this but: where are the artists in Hollywood today?
Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Carter "Doc" McCoy is a career robber, currently in his fourth year of a ten year prison sentence at the Texas State Penitentiary. After his request for parole is denied despite he being a model prisoner, Doc, unable emotionally to endure life inside, asks his loving wife Carol McCoy to contact crooked businessman Jack Beynon, a man with political connections, to secure his release in return for he being "for sale" to Beynon. Beynon is able to get Doc released, the sale price being for Doc to plan and execute a robbery at a small bank branch in Beacon City, Texas where Beynon knows that $750,000 will be kept in the vault for the next two weeks. Rather than Doc using his own men for the job, Beynon directs that the only other people involved will be the men of his own choosing, Rudy and Frank. There are to be no casualties, which is all right with Doc who is not a murderer. After the robbery is completed and the monies divvied up accordingly, Doc and Carol will cross the border into ...
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November 28, 2014 at 02:23 PM