(David) Sam(uel) Peckinpah Vincent Canby - Essay

Vincent Canby

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[There] are films that are simply lost in confusion—aimless enterprises that run on and on, sometimes with the sort of dazed looks you might expect, but often with expressions of deceptively intense purpose.

The last pretty well describes Sam Peckinpah's new film, "The Getaway."… More or less.

That qualification is necessary because if you take the characters at face value—which is what one usually does in this kind of film—then certain key decisions they make reflect on their sanity, which is otherwise unquestioned. From where any critic sits, it's impossible to tell whether this confusion is the result of the writing, the direction or the editing….

For all his reputation as a director of action and violence …, Peckinpah is most effective and most eloquent when dealing with themes of love and loss, which are as apparent in the super-bloody "The Wild Bunch" as in the quieter "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" and this year's ruefully comic "Junior Bonner." The action and the violence of "The Getaway" are supported by no particular themes whatsoever. The movie just unravels.

Vincent Canby, "'The Getaway'," in The New York Times (© 1972 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 20, 1972 (and reprinted in The New York Times Film Reviews: 1971–1972, The New York Times Company & Arno Press, 1973, p. 349).