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Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

R Released Aug 14, 1974 1h 52m Crime Drama List
78% Tomatometer 32 Reviews 85% Audience Score 5,000+ Ratings
When a Mexican crime boss (Kris Kristofferson) learns that his aide, Alfredo Garcia, has impregnated his daughter, he offers a million dollars for Garcia's head. Eager to collect, a couple of bounty hunters (Helmut Dantine, Gig Young) track him to a Mexico City bar run by an American expatriate named Bennie (Warren Oates). Bennie denies knowing Garcia and attempts to bring in the head himself after learning from his girlfriend (Robert Webber) that Garcia has died in a car accident. Read More Read Less
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

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Critics Consensus

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia adds a quirky -- but still thoroughly entertaining -- outlier to Sam Peckinpah's pulpy filmography.

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Critics Reviews

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Paul D. Zimmerman Newsweek Peckinpah saddles his themes with so many sordid sideshows and so many privative and private obsessions that, in the end, it is about nothing so much as the strange, special world of Peckinpah's own psyche. Nov 2, 2021 Full Review Anton Bitel Little White Lies while Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is certainly a memento mori, replete with intimations of its characters' corporeal nature and mortality, it is also, ultimately, a bizarre buddy pic Jan 23, 2017 Full Review Nora Sayre New York Times The movie's main problem is that the protagonist -- the dead head -- is a bore. Rated: 2/5 May 9, 2005 Full Review Jas Keimig The Stranger (Seattle, WA) In her role, Vega is both playful and sad, her eyes oozing emotion. Dec 8, 2021 Full Review Evan Dossey Midwest Film Journal A bleak and beautiful masterpiece about starting low and going lower. Mar 18, 2021 Full Review Matt Brunson Film Frenzy It's distinguished by some truly original moments but also marred by a ramshackle narrative that leans a bit too heavily on regurgitated themes and stylistic flourishes. Rated: 2.5/4 Mar 12, 2021 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Dave S Set in modern-day Mexico, Bennie (Warren Oates), a piano player in a dive bar, and his girlfriend Elita (Isela Vega) embark on a cross-country road trip to recover the body and collect the bounty on a man who impregnated the daughter of a ruthless mob boss. Immediately identifiable as a Sam Peckinpah movie, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is filled with plenty of gratuitous violence and nudity, essentially distracting the viewer from the fact that it’s not a very good movie, paling in comparison to his early works like The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs. While Oates does his best in the lead role, the movie is filled with bad acting, horrible dialogue, lots of repetitive slow-motion deaths, and inconsistent editing. The story itself is interesting, but not interesting enough to recommend watching the movie. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 04/18/24 Full Review Wayne K Sam Peckinpah was a controversial figure to say the least, and his films haven endured a similar reputation. I watched Straw Dogs recently, a great film about the darkness that lurks in even the most timid of souls, and yesterday I watched Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia, a film that was largely savaged by critics when it was released and made a paltry amount at the box office, but now is looked back on far more fondly, such is the fate of many reviled movies. It's a slow and pensive take on revenge and the lengths a person will go to to achieve the life they want. Warren Oates, who wears sunglasses in about 90% of his scenes, is fantastic in the lead role because he really looks like he's considering what he's saying, like it's coming out of his mouth for the first time, and he isn't sure exactly how its going to sound. He travels with his girlfriend Elita to Mexico to remove the eponymous head, and along the way he's made to question what he's doing and why he's doing it. The production was chaotic and stressful, which might explain the numerous jump cuts throughout, and maybe even the random snippets of slow motion. Peckinpah was drugged up much of the time, which likely contributed to the films often downbeat and contemplative tone. Just like Straw Dogs, it ends on a sudden, shocking note, leaving you to work out the meaning and significance of what you've just seen. If you do watch it, don't expect a fast pace or a simple resolution. It's a film that makes you think, makes you concentrate on the events and try and make sense of them. If you're willing to work for it, the rewards are definitely there. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 06/19/23 Full Review ALS Survivor Ken K A raw/gritty masterpiece way ahead of its time...clearly an influence on Tarantino. Awesomely Nihilistic in true 1970's fashion from pioneer of cinematic carnage, Sam Peckinpah! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/02/23 Full Review Audience Member An interesting western set in mode r times with some really great plot twists. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 07/26/22 Full Review Audience Member Sam Peckinpah said, "For me, Hollywood no longer exists. It's past history. I've decided to stay in Mexico because I believe I can make my pictures with greater freedom from here." With the exception of a few key people, Peckinpah made this movie with a Mexican crew, including camerman Alex Phillips, Jr., who hared wide-angle lenses, loved zooms and who created a multiple camera setup that allowed Peckinpah to basically edit the film in his head as he shot. It also allowed him lots of creative freedom and to capture the bleak world that he wanted. Shooting at a bar called the Tlaquepaque, he said out loud that this place was real. It was — the owner had once killed a woman on the premises and bribed the right people to make it go away. And the results, sure, they ended up in the Medved co-authored The Fifty Worst Movies of All Time, but Roger Ebert said, "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is Sam Peckinpah making movies flat out, giving us a desperate character he clearly loves, and asking us to somehow see past the horror and the blood to the sad poem he's trying to write about the human condition." Who is Garcia? He was once the man selected to be the successor for El Jefe (Emilio Fernández), but he messed up when he knocked up the boss' daughter Teresa, putting a million dollar bounty on his head. Two months pass before two hit men, Sappensly (Robert Webber) and Quill (Gig Young), walk into the saloon where Bennie (Warren Oates) plays piano. He claimns he doesn't know who Garcia is yet he surely does. He's the man who his lover Elita (Isela Vega) cheated on him with. He confronts her as to the man's whereabouts and learns that he died in an accident. Easy money — he gets $10,000 for Garcia's head, plus a $200 advance for expenses, and takes Elita along with him to dig the grave. On the way, he proposes to her, telling her that she can retire and they can live in peace, but we know that can never happen as the moment they get there, they're attacked by bikers (Kris Kristofferson and Donnie Fritts) who nearly assault her before Bernie comes to and dispatches them both. As he starts digging the grave, against the protests of Elita, he's knocked out. He wakes up buried alive with his girl dead by his side, the body of Garcia already missing its head. Oates took mushrooms before this scene, so he's really living this experience. Arguing with the head, which has been packed in a sack with dry ice, Bennie leads a death march across Mexico, with everyone in his way dying, death always at his side, waiting for him, as he begins to realize that the head means nothing at all to him or anyone else. The money was meaningless. The revenge doesn't matter. Yet he must follow through. Warren Oates copied Peckinpah to play his part, right down to borrowing a pair of sunglasses from the director. And this was the only time that the maverick creator ever got final cut on one of his movies. The twosome also bonded over cocaine, which only added to the air of paranoia and doom that fills every single second of this movie. I can see why some would dislike and even hate this movie, but for me, it just plain sings. The song may be abrasive, it may be filled with anger, but it's a song nonetheless. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review William L Peckinpah, in his darkest years, delivers a masterpiece that reflects his deep pessimism about human nature that takes his traditional archetype - the man of little means that has his attempts at morality continuously dashed by a world caught up in vice - and makes it not only disturbingly visceral but places it in a modern setting, both of which seem to have made the film difficult to appreciate among contemporary audiences. Instead of a character that finds some nobility or charm in a simple existence seeking honorable retribution against an unfair world, Oates brings Bennie to life as an actual failure. Though not explicitly cruel or spiteful, he is fully aware that others see him as a pawn and cannot escape his downtrodden existence or find any sort of happiness. When confronted with an opportunity to escape, he finds himself suddenly disillusioned in response to the way he is treated by those around him, recognizing in these few days the sum total of a lifetime's poor decisions. His degradation is is a beautifully despondent thing to witness. Oates, in perhaps his most compelling performance, gives us a character that is both empathetic but not necessarily likable, perhaps because his role as a cog in a machine of nihilism, violence, and subjugation is a bit too disheartening to think about. Leave it to 'Bloody Sam' to end his film on a freeze-frame of a machine gun muzzle blasting away. (4/5) Rated 4 out of 5 stars 10/11/21 Full Review Read all reviews
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

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Movie Info

Synopsis When a Mexican crime boss (Kris Kristofferson) learns that his aide, Alfredo Garcia, has impregnated his daughter, he offers a million dollars for Garcia's head. Eager to collect, a couple of bounty hunters (Helmut Dantine, Gig Young) track him to a Mexico City bar run by an American expatriate named Bennie (Warren Oates). Bennie denies knowing Garcia and attempts to bring in the head himself after learning from his girlfriend (Robert Webber) that Garcia has died in a car accident.
Sam Peckinpah
Martin Baum
Production Co
Optimus Films
Crime, Drama
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Aug 14, 1974, Original
Release Date (DVD)
Mar 22, 2005
1h 52m