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Sam Peckinpah

Sam Peckinpah

Ida Lupino hired him to work on her series "Mr. Adams and Eve" (1957) after she found him living in a shack behind her property. He paid her back by casting her in Junior Bonner (1972) some years later.

At the time of his death, Peckinpah was in pre-production on an original script by Stephen King entitled "The Shotgunners." (Source: Cinefantastique magazine, 2/91)

Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 631-633. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.

Father of Sharon Peckinpah, Kristen Peckinpah and Matthew Peckinpah with first wife Marie Selland, and father of Lupita Peckinpah with second wife Begoña Palacios.

He wrote his scripts by hand in his nearly illegible scribble. Only two women were ever employed as his secretaries because they were the only ones who could transcribe his terrible handwriting.



His nephew was the television writer and producer David E. Peckinpah

In 1954 director Don Siegel and producer Walter Wanger had been desperately trying to persuade the warden of San Quentin Prison to allow the use of the facility to film Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), but the warden had adamantly refused. After the final meeting in the prison, when the warden had said there was nothing Siegel or Wanger could do to persuade him to allow filming there, Siegel turned to speak to Peckinpah, who at the time was his assistant. When the warden heard Peckinpah's name, he asked, "Are you related to Denver Peckinpah?". Sam replied that Denver was his father. Denver Peckinpah was a well-known judge in northern California who had a reputation as a "hanging judge" and the warden had long been an admirer of his. He immediately granted the company permission to shoot the movie in San Quentin.

In 1976 he signed a contract to film "Cukoo's Progress", a novel by the Swedish author Sture Dahlström. The story of the novel is about Xerxes Sonson Pickelhaupt whose life ambition is to impregnate every women on the face of the earth. He died before the movie was made, but Dahlstrom still got paid.

In an interview with Jim Silke, Peckinpah listed the following as his favorite films: Rashomon; Treasure of Sierra Madre, which he called "possibly the finest motion picture ever made"; La Strada, a film that he named as one he would have liked to have made; Hiroshima Mon Amour; Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole; Carol Reed's Odd Man Out; Laurence Olivier's Hamlet; La Dolce Vita; On the Waterfront; Last Year at Marienbad; Pather Panchali, the first film in Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy; John Ford's Tobacco Road; A Place in the Sun; My Darling Clementine; Viva Zapata!; Shane; Jirí Sequens's Forbidden Games; High Noon; The Breaking Point, Michael Curtiz's adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not; and Ingmar Bergman's Ansiktet.

In his January 1972 Playboy interview, Peckinpah was asked to comment about critic Pauline Kael's assertion that in Straw Dogs (1971), he endorsed rape by having the protagonist's wife seemingly enjoy being violated by her ex-boyfriend. Pointing out that the scene in question was actually the first stage of a gangbang and that the wife clearly did not enjoy being taken by the second man, he went on to gently criticize Kael, who was a great admirer and supporter of his. Noting that he had shared a drink with Kael and liked her personally, Peckiinpah said that on the subject of his movie endorsing rape, "she's cracking walnuts with her ass."

Producer Martin Ransohoff felt compelled to fire Peckinpah after the beginning of principal shooting on The Cincinnati Kid (1965) due to disagreements over the conception of the film. The incident led to a physical altercation between the two. In the early 1970s, remarking on their fight, Peckinpah claimed Ransofhoff got the worst of it: "I stripped him as naked as one of his badly told lies", claimed the director known as "Bloody Sam" for the violence in his films. Peckinpah was replaced with Norman Jewison, a relative newcomer to feature film directing at the time, whose long and successful career as a journeyman filmmaker and producer brought him three Oscar nominations as best director and the Irving Thalberg Award in 1999 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Peckinpah, a master before he was discombobulated by substance abuse, received only one Academy Award nomination in his career, for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Wild Bunch (1969).

Served in the Marines Corps during World War II, but did not see combat.

The last project he directed was a music video for John Lennon's son Julian Lennon.

Was hired by Marlon Brando to adopt Charles Neider's novella about Billy the Kid, "The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones," that served as the basis for Brando's directorial debut, One-Eyed Jacks (1961). (The Western was the only film that the immortal actor ever directed.) While Stanley Kubrick was still slated to be the project's director, Peckinpah wrote what he believed was a good script; subsequently, he was devastated when he was let go after turning it in. Later, some of the thematic elements and scenes that survived and were showcased in "Jacks" also became part of Peckinpah's own take on the legendary outlaw, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973).

Was offered the chance to direct King Kong (1976) but turned it down.

Was to have worked with Joan Didion on Play It As It Lays (1972), but these plans never materialized.

Was voted the 32nd Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.


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