One of the greatest film directors America has produced, Sam Peckinpah revolutionized the way movies were made. In this detailed and insightful study, Bernard F. Dukore examines Peckinpah's fourteen feature films as a coherent body of work. He investigates the director's virtuosic editing techniques, thematic preoccupations that persist from his earliest to his last films, and the structure of his dramatic depiction of violence. He also addresses Peckinpah's cognizance of existentialism and the substantial traces this interest has left in the films. At the heart of Dukore's study is an extensive and detailed examination of Peckinpah's distinctive editing techniques. Focusing on representative sequences - including the breakout from the bank and the final battle in "The Wild Bunch", the half-hour siege that concludes "Straw Dogs", the killing of the title characters of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and combat sequences in "Cross of Iron" - Dukore provides a shot-by-shot analysis that illuminates Peckinpah's mastery of pacing and mood.
"Sam Peckinpah's Feature Films" demonstrates that Peckinpah's genius as a director and editor marks not only "The Wild Bunch", "Straw Dogs", and other classics but also his lesser-known feature films, even those that suffered substantial cuts at the hands of studio producers. Dukore's organic approach to the feature films reveals a highly unified body of work that remains a pointed commentary on power, violence, affection, and moral values.