johnlink ranks THE GETAWAY (1972)

I’ve heard, on multiple occasions, that the movie that inspired the PG-13 rating is GREMLINS. It was deemed too hard for PG, but clearly not worthy of an R. How it took that long after THE GETAWAY, I’m not sure. This is a movie that certainly should have carried an R rating when it was released in ’72, and how it did not make the MPAA stop and consider their system makes me scratch my head.

This is a movie about a guy (Steve McQueen) who gets out of jail and immediately, with the help of his wife (Ali MacGraw) and a few others, sets out to rob a bank.

I watched THE GETAWAY (1972) on 9.22.09. It was my first viewing of the film. (This is the film which provided the picture at the top of ‘johnlinkmovies’ homepage upon its creation.)



For the second time in as many films, I have to make an embarrassing admission. I have never seen a Sam Peckinpah film. I’ve wanted to hit up THE WILD BUNCH and STRAW DOGS, I’ve just never made it. I went into this movie not sure what to expect, only knowing it was a PG rated Steve McQueen movie directed by Peckinpah. Based on the latter’s reputation for violence, I was worried this might be soft. I was wrong. This is a subversive, sometimes violent (though comically so in high-def due to the paint used for blood), and maturely themed film.

The editing is done in a style which is more emotional than linear. The opening montage is a mismatch of the same events, demonstrating the monotony of serving time. When McQueen gets out, we see his vision of jumping into the water before he actually does it. Soon, though, as the action gets going, it reverts to more standard linear editing. We do get a brilliant scene, one which would be on a cutting room floor today. McQueen is driving through a round parking garage, his wheels screaming loudly. MacGraw is sitting in the train station waiting for him, a child screaming loudly beside her. Peckinpah switches about a dozen times between these two shots. The result is for the viewer. It makes us feel the stress the two of them are feeling in a manner greater than either of their individual plight. It puts us in a state of tension with them.

There are a couple of moments which also take away from this film as a whole. The blood is just goofy. In a big shootout, it is off putting to see someone rolling in red paint as they feign pain. Also, the music is as ineffective as it is effective. There are many moments which feel, due to the soundtrack, more like HALLOWEEN than anything else. Both of these are products of the time. However, they certainly have an impact on the viewer today. Overall though, this is as well filmed as an action movie gets. SCORE: 8


I love McQueen, and am glad to have finally gotten to this one. I’ve never seen Ali MacGraw in anything, but the camera certainly likes her. This movie takes a few minutes to get going, but once it does, it doesn’t let up. The trash truck sequence goes on a little long, which is strange because so many of the other sequences are so tight. SCORE: 7


McQueen is the same as he is in everything else, except he smacks around his wife a little in this one when he is pissed. MacGraw does well enough, though I keep reading that people don’t like her as an actress. She may not have extensive range, but she does what she needs to in this. I saw Slim Pickens was in this, and after watching DR. STRANGELOVE recently, was excited to see him. He gives a very important cameo near the end. Very good is Al Lettieri as Rudy, the man on McQueen’s tail who wants him dead. SCORE: 6


Never below average, this is a standard event-to-event script. The big pieces are the robbery, the betrayal, the garbage truck, and the final showdown. The third of those events is less successful, and the whole is not anything groundbreaking. I read that this is supposed to be a ‘skewering’ of the action genre, but it does not play that way at all. The dialogue is sharp, and it deals with some marital issues that action films don’t delve into, so I give it credit for that. But it is not like this is CHINATOWN. SCORE: 6



8+7+6+6+0= 27


~ by johnlink00 on September 22, 2009.

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