By Chaz Lipp
Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) arrives on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a 3,000-copy limited edition pressing. This somewhat polarizing revenge odyssey was Peckinpah’s own personal favorite from his colorful, violent, highly celebrated filmography. While not a spotless transfer, the high definition presentation is a big step up from the old DVD (the only real issue is a fair amount of print debris popping up onscreen throughout). The subpar ADR and foley effects are clearer than ever in the lossless DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack. Hey, it was a low-budget picture – all things considered, this is a great edition.
A Mexican crime figure ((Emilio Fernández) discovers that his teen daughter was impregnated by local ladies’ man Alfredo Garcia. He offers a bounty of one million dollars to anyone who delivers him Garcia’s head. While a small army of career criminals hunts for Garcia, only Bennie (Warren Oates) knows that the man is already dead. Far from a hard-boiled hitman or bounty hunter, Bennie is a lounge piano player. It’s his prostitute gal pal Elita (Isela Vega) who passes on the fortuitous info regarding Garcia’s status. She had a fling with Garcia, sending Bennie – who believes that he and Elita are truly in love – into a revenge-fueled rage.
Bennie doesn’t even know about the million dollars – he was subcontracted by a pair of suit-and-tie professionals, Sappensly (Robert Webber) and Quill (Gil Young). He’s promised just ten grand, which still seems like fairly easy money just for chopping the head off a corpse. Of course, it turns out to be anything but easy. Along the way we learn a great deal about Bennie’s devotion to Elita, even if we can also sense that she isn’t nearly as committed to him. She subtly, almost subconsciously, belittles Bennie every chance she gets. In one controversial scene, she even appears to shift an impending rape (by a biker played by Kris Kristofferson) into something approaching a tender, consensual coupling. Obsession is the theme throughout. Bennie is driven by the urge to preserve an idealized relationship that obviously isn’t quite what he believes it to be.
Special features include Twilight Time’s traditional isolated score mix (Jerry Fielding’s music in DTS-HD MA 2.0) and two commentary tracks: one with film historian Nick Redman with Garcia writer/producer Gordon Dawson, the other with Redman and a trio of additional historians. The 55-minute documentary Passion and Poetry: Sam’s Favorite Film is a solid retrospective. “A Writer’s Journey” is a 25-minute featurette focusing on Peckinpah biographer Garner Simmons.
Screen Archives is Twilight Time’s exclusive distributor – and the site to visit for ordering information on the limited edition Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia Blu-ray.