Viewport width =
May 4, 2009 | by  | in Film |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

In Monte Hellman’s The Shooting, a lengthy shot sim-ply holds on the face of Warren Oates. The longer it lasts the more handsome Oates seems—he is motionless and his eyes squint under his hallmark furrowed brow. And then he moves his mouth, and you realise it must be one of the strangest mouths to grace any human being on Earth. There’s never been any actor quite like Oates, he was one of a kind, utterly unique in every respect, and brilliant beyond recognition.

Alfredo Garcia marks one of only a handful of films in which Oates was given a lead role, and boy does he leave his mark on it. A synopsis is hardly necessary, the film’s title is emblematic of the plot. Needless to say, the head of Alfredo Garcia becomes the object of desire for Bennie, a down-and-out pianist playing Guantanamera in Mexico for chump change. When ten large is offered for the said head, Bennie sets out with his lover Elita, a prostitute, and former mistress of Garcia to find the crown and claim the jewels.

Critically savaged and a box-office flop, Alfredo Garcia is still regarded by some as among the worst films ever made. For others it is Peckinpah’s last masterpiece, his most personal film, and contains Oates’ most sublime performance. Amongst the violence and absurdity is an elegiac Oates, most beautifully visible during a roadside picnic in the gentlest scene in Peckinpah’s oeuvre. Despite this tender scene the film is transgressive even by Peckinpah’s standards. When Garcia does enter the plot, this lucid road-movie really switches gears and becomes very violent, yet remains heartbreakingly affecting despite the self-induced despair of Bennie’s situation.

On the back of Pat Garett’s failure, Peckinpah drank himself half to death on Alfredo Garcia, ostracising practically everyone around him, including his good friend Oates. Oates’ performance is an imitation of this Peckinpah, so much so that he took to wearing the director’s clothes and sunglasses, as well as adopting his drinking habit. As much as Peckinpah tried to self-destruct, it was sadly Oates who died first, at 53. Alfredo Garcia is the last picture they would make together, and in my opinion the best. The film is about as hard to come by as Garcia’s head, but if you find it, grab it. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Directed by Sam Peckinpah
With Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Robert Webber

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. There’s a New Editor
  2. An (im)possible dream: Living Wage for Vic Books
  3. Salient and VUW tussle over Official Information Act requests
  4. One Ocean
  5. Orphanage voluntourism a harmful exercise
  6. Interview with Grayson Gilmour
  7. Political Round Up
  8. A Town Like Alice — Nevil Shute
  9. Presidential Address
  10. Do You Ever Feel Like a Plastic Bag?

Editor's Pick

In Which a Boy Leaves

: - SPONSORED - I’ve always been a fairly lucky kid. I essentially lucked out at birth, being born white, male, heterosexual, to a well off family. My life was never going to be particularly hard. And so my tale begins, with another stroke of sheer luck. After my girlfriend sugge