For the fiftieth anniversary of the film, W.K. Stratton's definitive history of the making of The Wild Bunch, named one of the greatest Westerns of all time by the American Film Institute.
In The Wild Bunch, W.K. Stratton tells the fascinating history of the making of the movie and documents for the first time the extraordinary contribution of Mexican and Mexican-American actors and crew members to the movie's success. Shaped by infamous director Sam Peckinpah, and starring such visionary actors as William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Edmond O'Brien, and Robert Ryan, the movie was also the product of an industry and a nation in transition. By 1968, when the movie was filmed, the studio system that had perpetuated the myth of the valiant cowboy in movies like The Searchers had collapsed, and America was riled by Vietnam, race riots, and assassinations. The Wild Bunch spoke to America in its moment, when war and senseless violence seemed to define both domestic and international life.
The Wild Bunch is an authoritative history of the making of a movie and the era behind it.
About the Author
W.K. Stratton is the author of five books of nonfiction and three of poetry. He has written for Sports Illustrated, Outside, GQ, and Texas Monthly, and was named a Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters in 2017. He is a longtime resident of Austin, Texas.
“Stratton does a fine job of putting the film in its historical context . . . THE WILD BUNCH is a valuable addition to the literature of American film history and will be greeted by Wild Bunch devotees with adoration.”
starred review, Booklist
“Sam Peckinpah was a drunk, a brawler, and a visionary, a cinematic Homer whose epic poem, The Wild Bunch, is one of our greatest Westerns and an audacious milestone in New Hollywood's brief ascendancy. W.K. Stratton captures the man, his achievement and the turbulent era in which it was made with solid judgments, vivid prose and a deep commitment to discovering the truth. He makes clear that Peckinpah's masterpiece was not just a bridge from classical Westerns to post-modern ones, but a deep, personal meditation on violence, greed, masculinity, and imperial illusions.”
Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of High Noon
“Fifty years after its release, Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch remains as convulsive, exhilarating, and upsetting as ever. W.K. Stratton's act of passionate advocacy scrupulously records the battles that went into its making, and the battles Peckinpah's admirers have been fighting ever since.”
Charles Taylor, author of Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-in Near You
“Muscular study . . . Stratton pulls together big strands of story: the history of the Mexican revolutionary period, Peckinpah's own fascination with Mexico, the history of U.S.-Mexico relations, the history of moviemaking itself. . . Essential reading for fans of the epochal (and reportedly soon to be remade) movie as well as movie-history and Western buffs generally.”
starred review, Kirkus Reviews