Adapted by Walter Hill from a novel by pulp poet Jim Thompson, this taut action joyride is a tour de force of sustained suspense. Sprung from prison by a shady parole officer, ex-con “Doc” McCoy (Steve McQueen) gets roped into a botched bank job, which sends him and his wife (Ali MacGraw) on a blood-spattered dash across Texas, with $500,000 and a shotgun in tow. Peckinpah masterfully keeps the tension escalating over what is essentially an ultra-elaborate, ingeniously conceived extended chase sequence that takes the couple from a white-knuckle pursuit on a train to a perilous ride in the back of a garbage truck to the bullet-riddled climax in a hotel. The film’s unrelenting sense of momentum is enhanced by Quincy Jones’s propulsive prog-jazz score. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.
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