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The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch is a 1969 English language western film directed by Sam Peckinpah, in which an aging group of outlaws hope to have one final score while the West is turning into a modern society. It stars William Holden, Alfonso Arau, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, Warren Oates, Jaime Sánchez, Ben Johnson, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Bo Hopkins and Dub Taylor.

The screenplay was written by Walon Green, Roy N. Sickner and Sam Peckinpah. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score for a Motion Picture (not a Musical) and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Material Not Previously Published or Produced.

Originally a controversial film because of its graphic violence, The Wild Bunch is also noted for making the use of slow motion shots in mainstream motion pictures acceptable. The technique of slow motion had existed since the earliest days of film, and was often used in avant-garde and New Wave films, but in the years following The Wild Bunch, slow-motion became a common method of emphasizing action sequences in movies, especially action-adventure movies.

In 1993, Warner Bros. resubmitted the film to the MPAA ratings board prior to an expected rerelease. To the studio’s surprise, the originally R-rated film was given an NC-17 rating, delaying the rerelease while the decision was appealed. Approximately 10 extra minutes were not technically additions in that they were all present when the film was released; Warner Bros. subsequently trimmed some footage to decrease the running time.

In 1999 the film was deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

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