The Getaway (1972) Directed by Sam Peckinpah

As Astrid is away, it's possible that action movies and their ilk appear here. I like watching nothing better than a good old shoot 'em up! Certainly The Getaway is in essence something like a modern western where a man confronts his personal demons head on. This is a middle Peckinpah. It's no Pat Garrett or Wild Bunch or even anywhere near as crazy and original as Bring Me The Head Of Alfred Garcia. But still it's a lesson in the Heist genre which Peckinpah handles with aplomb. The main draw here are the two leads. The weird chemistry between Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw is the heart of the film.
They met on set and then fell in love. It was big news. They seem opposites. McQueen is hard, macho, cool. MacGraw seems preppy, conservative and upper class. They are a hot couple. McQueen wears cool shades, MacGraw a series of tan casual dresses. Based on a Jim Thompson novel and scripted by the great Walter Hill, The Getaway is about a recently released prisoner Doc McCoy (Steve McQueen) and his wife Carol (Ali MacGraw) going on the run after a bank job goes wrong. They are chased by assorted villains and cops across various states for the half a million dollars stolen from the heist. They are trying to save their marriage after an earlier indiscretion of Carol's. Rarely for a Peckinpah movie Carol holds her own against Doc, the woman is given equal billing. The chase intensifies till they end up in a hotel in New Mexico, the High Noon style climax is a fittingly violent finale. Perversely, with so little morality on show, Peckinpah ends the movie with a comment on the sanctity of marriage!
The film has a mood which is intense. The cinematography by Lucien Ballard is superb, rich colors fill the screen, this really looks like cinema. Peckinpah regulars Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Bo Hopkins appear in various supporting roles. A pointless, misjudged sexist side plot featuring Sally Struthers and Al Lettieri still can't derail the film. Peckinpah's legendary slow motion action scenes are much in use most notably where McQueen destroys a police car with a pump action shot gun and later when the couple are ejected from a garbage dumpster. In fact the finale with McQueen on a killing spree against his hunters is a reminder for me that this kind of film was once mainstream cinema. It's risk taking in it's mood, with an experimental bent and no sentimentality on show. Why do we accept so little from our thrillers nowadays? McQueen's iconic presence is enough to suspend disbelief. I've watched this film many times and it only get's better. Tarrantino alludes to this kind of cinema but often misses.
Cool, brutal and great.


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