young pregnant Mexican girl sits forlornly by a lake… her young friend joins her and informs that her father is waiting. Two henchmen appear to repeat the message. She is led into the family chapel where her father, El Jefe (Fernandez) is reading to a very tense looking audience.
When the girl is before him, he ceases reading, lights a cigar and asks his young daughter who the father of her child is.
She says nothing, so one of the henchmen rips her dress off… she stands defiantly before her father, her breasts exposed and maintains her silence. The henchmen take an arm each and being to twist, the girl screams in agony, as her arm is broken, it is then she screams out the name of Alfredo Garcia.
A sinister looking businessman (Dantine) rips off the locket she wears round her neck; the picture inside is of Garcia. Her mother and the women of the family lead the distraught girl from the chapel.
El Jefe laments that Garcia was like a son to him. He declares to the audience that he will pay one million dollars to the man who brings him the head of his daughter’s lover.
A variety of bounty hunters are seen scouring the city in search of the elusive lothario. Two well-dressed, middle-aged ‘corporate’ looking bounty hunters (Webber & Young) enter a tourist bar and enquire about the wanted man.
The locals plead ignorance of the whereabouts or knowledge of the man they are looking for, so they try their luck with the drunkard piano player, Bennie (Oates) as he is a fellow American. His response is the same but he says he’ll look out for Alfredo, if he’s alive… they respond that dead is just fine.
As soon as the two Americans leave it turns out that everyone in the bar knows Alfredo Garcia. Bennie enquires when Alfredo was last seen and is told that he was around about a week ago. Bennie asks who will know where he is now? Elita he is told.
Elita (Vega) just happens to be Bennie’s chickalina… he immediately goes to her, his eloquent greeting to her is “how’d do like a black eye… you’re a lying, cheating no-good two-bit b*tch!” His rage fuelled because she blew him out the previous week, cause she was having an affair with Alfredo!
Bennie states that if he ever gets his hands on him, he’s gonna kill him. Elita informs that after their three-day tryst, Alfredo left; he was very drunk and was tragically killed when his car spun off the road into some rocks.
Bennie goes to the American’s hotel room where they are gathered with the rest of their arrogant cronies. He informs that he can find Garcia, and enquires what evidence he needs to produce… he is told that the head will do. He’s told he has four days to produce, if he does then $10,000 will be his, if he doesn’t then they will kill him for wasting their time.
The following morning Bennie tells Elita that they’re going on a picnic. As they leave their apartment they are tailed by a couple of indigenous bounty hunters who are working for the Americans.
While having their picnic Bennie tells Elita that her dead ex is worth ten thousand bucks, hence they gotta find his grave and retrieve his head to collect the cash.
So beings the journey which spirals into unadulterated violence, death and misery as the Bennie’s plan meets with a multitude of obstacles… rapists, bounty hunters & Garcia’s family all attempt to stop the man with the HUGE sunglasses.
It all ends up back at El Jefe’s ranch for the consummate Peckinpah ending, which evokes ‘The Wild Bunch’ for its bloody-mindedness and operatic violence which takes place on the back drop of Alfredo Garcia’s newly born son’s baptism.
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By: Stuart Fitzgerald
Director Sam Peckinpah (1925-1984) was a tortured soul who lived life to the absolute maximum. His drinking and drug intake was infamous among the “Hollywood crowd”. He was perpetually at war with the studios, producers and actors he worked with, due to his no-nonsense, unforgiving approach to his work.
Peckinpah was a man’s man, yet beneath the fire, brimstone & misogyny was a highly talented artist whose ability to merge an underlining profound poetry and beauty to his enraged, violent films has rarely, if ever, been matched.
This film is probably one of the most vicious, brutal and unsentimental films ever made. It is teeming with angst, overflowing with rage and is an exercise in absolute unadulterated nihilism.
This was the only film where he had complete creative control over and boy does it show.
From the shocking opening when a father has his own daughter’s arm broken in order to ascertain the name of her secret lover to the massacre at the end, this film is just an assault on morality. When Elita raises doubts about desecrating Alfredo’s grave, Bennie spits “don’t give me that crap… there’s nothing scared about holy ground or the man that’s in it, nor you nor me.”
This film is filled with the lowest depravity imaginable… as well as the grave being dug up, women are slapped about, Elita submits to rape without complaint and an old woman is shot in cold blood.
Early in the film his portentous employers call Bennie a “loser”, his desperate response is that “nobody loses all time.” Yet Bennie’s journey leads only to grief and a slipping of sanity and when presented with a chance of fiscal redemption at the conclusion of the film he adopts a stubborn & righteous stance, which ends in him in taking his inescapable punishment like a man. It echo’s a course of action the director maintained throughout his life.
They will be no happy endings or a shred of sentiment here, be warned! Yet in this mire of pain, faded dreams and a severed head clouded in flies is an underlying beauty in this film. The backdrop of the rural Mexican countryside, with children playing carefree by the dusty roadside, the impressive landscapes and amazing sunsets show a glimpse of another more wholesome existence.
Warren Oates is superb as Bennie, as he shows not an ounce of vanity in this blighted role and one cannot help rooting for the guy on this hapless, immoral quest.
This film is a truly personal work and comes closer than any biography to taking you inside the head of a great director who took no prisoners… Boy they don’t make ‘em like this anymore, a 70’s classic!
Famed film critic Pauline Kael once wrote of Peckinpah “his moral judgments … [are] based less on what his characters do than on what they wouldn’t stoop to do.” (In Hollywood, people take more pride in what they’ve said no to than in what they’ve done.)
Warren Oates (1928-1982) played Lyle Gorch in Peckinpah’s ‘The Wild Bunch’ (1969). Other great directors he worked with were Terence Malick and Steven Spielberg on Badlands(1973) & 1941(1979) respectively.
Robert Webber (1924-1989) played the debonair Philippe Douvier in ‘Revenge of the Pink Panther’(1978). He also featured in “Who Dares Wins’(1982) & ‘Wild Geese II’(1985).
Gig Young (1913-1978) played Lawrence Weyburn in Peckinpah’s ‘The Killer Elite’ (1975) and his last film before he passed away was in Bruce Lee’s ‘Game of Death’ (1978). Gig’s character is called Fred C. Dobbs, this was the name of Humphrey Bogart’s character in ‘The Treasure of Sierra Madre’(1948) on which Peckinpah drew influence when making ‘…Garcia’.
Emillio Fernandez who plays El Jefe had worked with Peckinpah on two previous movies. As the evil General Mapache from ‘The Wild Bunch’ and Paco in ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid’(1973).
Kris Kristofferson has a cameo as a grungy biker rapist in ‘Garcia’. He also featured in Peckinpah’s ‘‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid’ & ‘Convoy’(1978).
know some Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia trivia that we could add? [Please
send it in]
It was shot entirely in Mexico, but I dont know any exact locations...[Thanks to GUV]
I was living in Mexico City at the time (1974) and was hired to participate in a crowd scene that was, I believe, filmed in the lobby of the Camino Real Hotel (I remember that Gig Young was being made up in the same hotel room that some of us extras were sharing). [Thanks to Betsy Cornehlsen Spr]
Can you help? Do you know any of the filming locations used for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia? [Please send them in]
Not much of a soundtrack on offer here apart from some local Mexican tunes in the background.
Soundtrack Available: Unknown
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