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Trivia / The Wild Bunch

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  • Acting for Two:
    • Mexican singer-actress Yolanda Ponce appears in three different scenes. First she's trampled by a horse in the opening shootout, then she serenades Mapache's troops from the back of a train during the train station battle, and finally she shoots Pike in the final shootout. Presumably the last two are supposed to be the same character. In fact, Ponce was seriously injured by the horse, but chose to do the other scenes while she was still recovering.
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    • The carnage in the final shootout is so great that several extras needed to be "killed" more than once.
  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • According to L.Q. Jones, he and Strother Martin approached Sam Peckinpah with an idea to add more depth to their characters (T.C. and Coffer). The idea was to add a hint of a homosexual relationship between their characters. Peckinpah liked the idea and the footage made it into the final release version.
    • The image of the scorpion being dropped in the ant hill was suggested by Emilio Fernández because he and his friends used to do that as children. The image was not in the script.
    • Peckinpah was never totally satisfied with Sykes' lines at the end of the film through the script's various drafts. Edmond O'Brien came up with "It ain't like it used to be, but it'll do" during rehearsals, and it ended up getting used.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • All-Star Cast: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Albert Dekker, Emilio Fernandez, etc.
  • Breakthrough Hit: Before this, Sam Peckinpah had only done TV work and three feature films: the largely forgotten The Deadly Companions, the Acclaimed Flop Ride the High Country and the Box Office Bomb Major Dundee. Almost overnight, The Wild Bunch made him the most talked-about director in America, and did well at the box office.
  • California Doubling: The entire film was shot in Mexico, including the scenes set in Texas.
  • Career Resurrection: The film revived William Holden's flagging career.
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  • Cast the Expert: According to Ben Johnson, the prostitutes that he and Warren Oates frolic with were the real thing.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Ben Johnson was considered for Deke Thornton before being cast as Tector Gorch.
  • Completely Different Title: In Brazil, the film was released as You Will Inherit My Hatred. Which is arguably an improvement, if only for manliness.
  • The Danza: Elsa Cardenas as Elsa.
  • Dueling Movies: With Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In fact, it was greenlighted specifically to compete with it. Strother Martin was in both movies.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Sam Peckinpah didn't feel he was getting enough from the schoolteacher in the bank (she actually was a real teacher), so he told Bo Hopkins to stick his tongue in her ear and got the reaction from her he wanted.
  • Executive Meddling: Averted, unusually for a Sam Peckinpah film. Peckinpah and producer Phil Feldman worked well together, and Peckinpah was grateful that Feldman defended the film's violence against objections from Warner Bros. (in marked contrast with Major Dundee, where Jerry Bresler reflexively sided with Columbia). Peckinpah's only objection was that Feldman (under pressure by the studio) cut the flashback showing Pike's lover Aurora being killed by her husband, feeling it was crucial to Pike's character, but admitted that the finished project was still "96 percent" his work.
  • Fake Nationality: Jaime Sánchez, from Puerto Rico, as Angel, but otherwise the Mexican characters are actually played by Mexicans. Mexicans also play most of the Texas townsfolk in the opening scene.
  • He Also Did: The majority of the film was shot in Parras de la Fuente, a town in Coahuila that was most famous for being the home of Francisco Madero, the ill-fated president of Mexico whose 1913 assassination was the central event in The Mexican Revolution. The elderly man seen among the attendees at the Temperance Union meeting in the opening scene was Raúl Madero, 79 at the time, Francisco's brother. Raúl had also been an important figure in the Revolution, and Mexican audiences seeing the film would've immediately recognized him. The schoolteacher who suffered Crazy Lee sticking his tongue in her ear was also played by a Madero family member.
  • Genre-Killer: One of several post-Hayes Code westerns that tore the genre apart. This one was singled out by John Wayne, however, who said, "Dammit, Peckinpah, you killed the Western."
  • Hostility on the Set:
    • Sam Peckinpah would drive his crew so hard that it sometimes created friction and confrontations between him and certain cast members. Early in the shooting, William Holden threatened to walk off the set if Peckinpah continued to verbally abuse the crew in his presence. Robert Ryan threatened to punch the director after he made Ryan spend ten days in costume and makeup without filming any scenes or allowing him a few days off. Ernest Borgnine also promised to "beat the shit out" of Peckinpah if the director didn't allow him some relief from the throat-clogging dust that was affecting the actor's breathing on location. Editor Lou Lombardo would later recall, "Over time, we became the Wild Bunch. I saw what Holden was doing. He was playing Sam. He was running the bunch like Sam ran the crew."
    • In his autobiography, Borgnine intimated that some of the crew were often annoyed with Jaime Sánchez, whose background was in stage acting and film dramas, and had never done a Western before:
      He was barely 30 at the time and he was like a kid in a candy store. He just loved playing with his gun and he got to be a real fast draw. But it got to be irritating, having him constantly pull his six-shooter on us.
  • Missing Episode: A number of scenes from the movie's premiere cut have apparently been lost (though it's unlikely whether Peckinpah intended to include them in the final version). Two scenes have been confirmed through surviving stills: a longer flashback to Thornton's time in Yuma, and the bounty hunters finding the corpse of Buck (the wounded member of the Bunch killed by Pike after the opening robbery). Others (like an even longer and bloodier version of the opening shootout) have long been rumored, but unconfirmed.
  • Real-Life Relative: During the opening robbery sequence, two children are seen holding each other, and watching as one of the robbers rides by on horseback and scoops up a bag of money laying on the ground. The boy in that scene is Matthew Peckinpah, Sam Peckinpah's son.
  • Surprisingly Lenient Censor: Amazingly, the only bit of violence that the MPAA was upset with was Angel getting his throat cut.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The train robbery itself was not in the script. All scenes were improvised on the spot, the same day. Same thing with "the walk" for the bunch to help Angel.
    • The famous "Last Walk" was improvised by Sam Peckinpah during the shoot. Originally, the scene was to begin with the Bunch leaving the whorehouse and immediately cut to the confrontation with Mapache. Once the decision was made to lengthen the scene, many of the Mexican extras were choreographed by the assistant directors while the scene was filming.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Lee Marvin was Sam Peckinpah's original choice for Pike Bishop, but he turned the role down because of its similarities to The Professionals (another tale of Americans in Mexico during The Mexican Revolution, with Robert Ryan in a big supporting role). He chose to star in Paint Your Wagon because it paid more. Sterling Hayden, Charlton Heston,note  Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum,note  Gregory Peck and James Stewart also passed on it.
    • Among those considered to play Dutch Engstrom were Charles Bronson, Sammy Davis Jr., and Steve McQueen.
    • Sam Peckinpah originlly wanted Richard Harris (who had co-starred in Major Dundee) for Deke Thornton, but he was never formally approached. Other actors considered for the role were Henry Fonda, Glenn Ford.
    • Jason Robards was considered for Sykes.
    • The role of General Mapuche was originally offered to Mario Adorf but he turned it down because he felt uncomfortable playing such a violent character.
    • The bounty hunters' death scene was to be an elaborate shoot-out but producer Phil Feldman suggested killing them off-screen entirely. Sam Peckinpah liked it so much he wrote him to thank him saying, "Your idea of taking out the killing of the bounty hunters was absolutely correct."
    • Because of the expense and manpower needed for the bridge scene, which involved having to build the bridge, then destroy it, producer Phil Feldman wasn't optimistic about being able to complete it, so he brought the film's co-writer, Walon Green, down to Mexico to write an alternate scene where the Bunch cross the Rio Grande on a cable. Peckinpah really wanted to do the bridge scene, however, and ultimately got his way.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Ernest Borgnine's limp wasn't acting. He broke his foot while filming The Split and had to wear a cast throughout the Mexican location shoot.


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