Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We're Running Out of Anti-Heroes!

The Wild Bunch (1969) was arguably Sam Peckinpah's greatest tribute to cinema violence.  Essentially, almost every major character died in the bloody shoot-out that ended the movie.

In real life, many of the main actors have also passed away during the past 42 years.

This week, the last of the four key characters died.  In the iconic photo, right to left:

Ernest Borgnine, who played Dutch Engstrom, died this week at the age of 95 of kidney failure

As for the three "other" Wild Bunch characters who survived to the final shoot-out:?
  • William Holden ("Pike Bishop"}died in 1981 at age 63.  The rumor is that he got drunk on vodka in his home one night, fell down and hit his head.   Too drunk to realize that he was seriously injured, he went to bed and bled to death.  This  information is also from the autopsy report and resultant book by the L.A. County Medical Examiner.
  • Warren Oates ("Lyle Gorch") ...died in 1982 at age 53 of heart attack
  • Ben Johnson  ("Tector Gorch") ..   died in 1996 at age 77 of heart attack
 The "Anti-Anti-Heroes" in the pursuing posse did little better in the Survival Lottery.

Even the Anti-Anti Villains have reached their "Best Used By Date":
But there were SIX members of The Wild Bunch who survived the original bank robbery:
The other two?
  • Edmund O'Brien ("Freddie Sykes"), the hostler, died in 1985 at the age of 69 of Alzheimer's Disease
    • Jaimie Sanchez ("Angel", who was the first to die after having his throat treacherously slit by El Indio, which action was the direct impetus for the final shoot-out) .. as of this date is alive and well and still working at age 74
 Strange, that the actor who played 'first to die' in the movie is almost the last to die in Real Life.

(Watch the movie for $2.99 here)