Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Getaway


Once more Sam Peckinpah pushed the boundaries of violence in the movies. This is a pretty standard chase, but with some things that surprised me. The violence is all done well, particularly a tense scene of killers stalking each other in a sleazy hotel. Steve McQueen is given early release from prison by Ben Johnson, who has a lot of political clout. The price is he has to plan and pull off a bank robbery. But he is saddled with a gang of macho idiots, and everything goes wrong. From then on he and Ali McGraw were on the run, as the title suggests.

The scene that stands out, the one that I remembered all these years later, was when they were hiding in a dumpster. And a garbage truck comes along and spills them into the crusher! Load after load of crap keeps falling in on them, and they are in danger of being compressed, a scene George Lucas later stole for Star Wars. Finally the truck spills them out into a landfill. Ain’t crime glamorous?

It is also enjoyable for the cast, which includes Dub Taylor, Bo Hopkins, and Slim Pickens. Sally Struthers is also there, as possibly the least faithful wife in history.
Then there’s Ali McGraw. Who ever thought that woman could act? Well, I was stunned to learn that the Academy must have thought so. She actually got an Oscar nomination for that awful piece of dreck, Love Story. She made that one, this one, and Goodbye Columbus, and then her career deservedly tanked. I’ll bet you haven’t heard of her in forty years. She has only one expression, a sort of annoyed or maybe troubled wrinkling of her pretty little brow. And that’s it. What a travesty if she had won over Glenda Jackson (the winner), Jane Alexander, Sarah Miles, and Carrie Snodgrass.