Published in 1994, David Weddle’s biography of filmmaker Sam Peckinpah provides a detailed look into “Bloody Sam’s” life and films. If They Move…Kill ‘Em begins with Peckinpah’s childhood in a family of “lumberjacks, cattle ranchers and frontier lawyers”. Weddle documents Peckinpah’s scriptwriting for TV shows such as Gunsmoke, The Rifleman and The Westerner. Peckinpah’s violent films often brought criticism, but Weddle includes a Peckinpah quote in the book regarding The Wild Bunch:
“You see, people begin to see the violence within them, the violence just below the surface. It’s in all of us, as the film shows, whether we be criminals, lawmen, children, or old men. Violence usually begins with a reason, with some principle to be defended. The real motivation however, is a primitive taste for blood, and as the fighting continues reasons or principles are forgotten and men fight for the sake of fighting.”
Weddle also weaves actors and friends throughout the filmmaker’s career such as R.G. Armstrong, William Holden, Warren Oates, L.Q. Johnson, Strother Martin, Ben Johnson, Ernest Borgnine as well as Kris Kristofferson, Donnie Fritts and even Bob Dylan into the story. Weddle writes of the circumstances, obstacles and facts surrounding each project.
Peckinpah’s films included: The Deadly Companions, Ride The High Country, Major Dundee, Noon Wine, The Wild Bunch, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Straw Dogs, Junior Bonner, The Getaway, Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Killer Elite, Cross of Iron, Convoy and The Osterman Weekend. Peckinpah even directed a Julian Lennon music video. Peckinpah died in 1984…
Weddle incorporates into the 578-page book Peckinpah’s themes of violence, betrayal and his cinematic insight to filming austere and unforgettable landscapes. “Bloody Sam’s” hard-drinking and drug-taking also fill some of these pages to reflect a glimpse behind the camera. If They Move…Kill ‘Em tells a powerful story of one of America’s greatest filmmakers. This book, like Peckinpah’s films, cuts to the bone.
An essay revolving around Peckinpah’s Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia can be read in Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2.