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Peckinpah Today

Peckinpah Today

New Essays on the Films of Sam Peckinpah

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Edited by Michael Bliss


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About the Book

Written exclusively for this collection by today’s leading Peckinpah critics, the nine essays in Peckinpah Today explore the body of work of one of America’s most important filmmakers, revealing new insights into his artistic process and the development of his lasting themes. Edited by Michael Bliss, this book provides groundbreaking criticism of Peckinpah’s work by illuminating new sources, from modified screenplay documents to interviews with screenplay writers and editors.

Included is a rare interview with A. S. Fleischman, author of the screenplay for The Deadly Companions, the film that launched Peckinpah’s career in feature films. The collection also contains essays by scholar Stephen Prince and Paul Seydor, editor of the controversial special edition of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In his essay on Straw Dogs, film critic Michael Sragow reveals how Peckinpah and co-scriptwriter David Zelag Goodman transformed a pulp novel into a powerful film. The final essay of the collection surveys Peckinpah’s career, showing the dark turn that the filmmaker’s artistic path took between his first and last films. This comprehensive approach reinforces the book’s dawn-to-dusk approach, resulting in a fascinating picture of a great filmmaker’s work.


A teacher of writing, literature, and cinema at Virginia Tech, Michael Bliss is the author or editor of eight books of film criticism, including Justified Lives: Morality and Narrative in the Films of Sam Peckinpah, Doing It Right: The Best Criticism on Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, and Dreams within a Dream: The Films of Peter Weir.


Peckinpah Today is evidence of Bliss’s reputation as an important Peckinpah scholar, bringing together essays of the most significant writers and researchers on this director and his work. This collection will immediately generate enthusiastic interest, as it covers substantial new ground. Peckinpah specialists, film scholars, fans, and buffs will all welcome this book.”—Gabrielle Murray, senior lecturer in the Media and Cinema Studies program, La Trobe University

Peckinpah Today: new Essays on the Films of Sam Peckinpah shows Peckinpah remains an inexhaustible source of fascination for filmmakers and scholars….The material on The Deadly Companions in Garner Simmons’s ‘The Deadly Companions Revisited’ is particularly valuable for its reclamation of the film as an important Peckinpah work. The director himself disowned the movie, and, as a result, many critics have given it scant attention. Yet Simmons and Gerard Camy, in a later essay comparing Companions to The Osterman Weekend, prove the artist is not alwys to be trusted as a judge of his own work; the two pieces devoted to The Deadly Companions prove it to be a significant explication of many of the themes that would obsess Peckinpah for his entire career. The two pieces also serve as bookends for a collection that proves the films of Peckinpah are as vital and thought-provoking today as ever.”—Jim Hemphill, AC Book Reviews