China 9, Liberty 37 (1978) - News Poster

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Feature: The Essential Must-See U.S. Tough Guy Cinema

  • Nerdly
American cinema in the Seventies through to the early Nighties was populated with the kind of leading characters you don’t see enough of any more – no nonsense, amoral tough guys, often on the wrong side of the law, rugged complexions lines with life, who start off mean and don’t get any nicer by the closing credits.

Director Sam Peckinpah’s brilliantly brutal and bloody Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) features a prime example of this. Bennie, played by Warren Oates (pictured above), is a down on his luck bartender whose ears prick up when $1 million dollars is offered for the titular, potentially suicidal deed – but as Bennie says, ‘nobody loses all the time’. It’s possibly Oates’s finest performance as the tequila-soaked bounty hunter who, the more outgunned he is, the more savage his becomes. It’s also one of Peckinpah’s greatest films, and nicely encapsulates the violent,
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