THE PECKINPAH ANSWER TO THE ETERNAL QUESTION: WHAT DOES A DIRECTOR REALLY DO?
Click here and go to pages 99/100 of the original "Sergeant Steiner" script to read the two page version of the scene in which a very self-serviing German commander, in search of the all-important military award known as the "Cross Of Iron" decides to fire upon his own men (I simply don't have the energy to explain the plot in any more detail...but one of the great triumphs of Peckinpah's sequence is that you kind of don't need to know much of the plot...he gives it up in his own inimitably organized yet still whacked version of events).
Question: how drunk could Peckinpah truly have been to pull of a scene of this exquisite mastery this late in his career? Was a lot of it an act? Or was he the kind of artist who does his best work just as the fall has begun--assuming that there's nothing left to prove and nobody important enough to not make an enemy of?
The hell with it. Dig one of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed. And let's all learn what a really great director actually does.
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 9:46 PM