Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

Sam Peckinpah directs Warren Oates, Isela Vega and Robert Webber in this neo-western thriller where a south-of-the-the-border bar musician sees his chance to make some “new life” money when the cartel want a man he knows’ head.

I’d say BMTHOAG would be one of my favourite movies if it wasn’t so fucking bleak. Amazing rude yet sensitive performances from personal favourite Warren Oates. Unexpected twists and turns in a simple enough tale… there is one expertly executed shock in a graveyard that spins the entire universe out of control. Shoot outs that are wild and random and violent and merciless. But I can only watch it once a decade comfortably. It is way too languid and misanthropic and misogynistic and dirty to enjoy overly frequently. At first it is seedy fun watching an anti-hero as ethically broken as Oates’ Bennie. We chuckle as we see him pour tequila on his crabs the morning after a romantic tryst or try to continue making small talk behind his shades after two queer bagmen suits beat one of his bar whores for no transgression at all. We slowly realise how pathetic he is. He is his lover’s second choice, a mere side piece compared to the titular and prolific Alfredo Garcia. He loves Elita and the resigned sadness in his face as they talk about the future, marriage and the chance this score could give them is heartbreaking. He is powerless in a random attack from passing bikers and that frustration of obsolescence is so casually processed you want to hate him for not being the movie man-of-action we deserve. And then after an hour of diversions and hanging out, the rampage to deliver the head of Garcia begins. Bullets fly, flies infest, mania takes over. Whether you drive the road to oblivion fast or slow, with purpose or pig headed determination there is only one fatal outcome. If you are going to take that road you need a lead actor as crumpled and sleazy and complex and middle aged, penniless cool as Oates to be your wheelman. I fucking love him in movies and this is probably his finest hour.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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