Release year: 1972
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Screenwriter: Walter Hill, Jim Thompson (novel)
Starring: Steve McQueen, Ali McGraw, Ben Johnson, Sally Struthers, Slim Pickens, Richard Bright, Jack Dodson, Dub Taylor, Al Lettieri
Ratings: 1 Golden Globe nomination: Best Original Score.
After just being released fro prison, career robber Carter ‘Doc’ McCoy (Steve McQueen) needs to pull of a huge bank robbery as payment for crooked businessman Jack Beynon (Ben Johnson), who got him out of prison early. Helping with the job is McCoy’s wife Carol (Ali McGraw) and two of Beynon’s men, who try to double cross McCoy. Now the McCoys must flee the country with the police on their tails.
Renowned director Peckinpah is behind several classics, The Wild Bunch (1969) and Convoy (1978) to name a few, the Getaway is one of his most known movies. His movies were known for their extreme violence, something that seems unlikely today, where his violence pale in comparison to some of the movies made today. Peckinpah and McQueen (Bullitt, 1968) had previously worked together on Junior Bonner (1972), an experience McQueen enjoyed but which was unsuccessful, and the movie adaptation of Thompson’s novel was an opportunity for the two to work together again. This time the made a hit. The second-highest grossing movie of the year, The Getaway became one of the biggest financial successes of both men and is still considered one of the best heist movies made. The movie is a solid, straight-ahead action movie that moves along steadily, with occasionally out-burst of violence and tense scenes, like the railway con man scene. The part of the veterinarian and his wife lacks credibility, but the coldness of Rudy, a great Lettieri (The Godfather, 1972), and Fran, an innocent looking Struthers (Five Easy Pieces, 1970), works great for the movie. However, thehe greatest asset for the movie is undoubtful McQueen. Brooding and tough, he has a great presence and the movie is raised several bars every time he is on screen, instantly drawing your attention. The rather stiff acting of McGraw (Love Story, 1970) becomes tolerant due to the chemistry she shares with McQueen and the two suits each other and makes the marital connection between the characters believable. It’s a gripping and well-executed story with a great performance by McQueen, making it a must-watch for fans of the action genre.
Ali McGraw was married to Robert Evans at the time of filming, but began an affair with Steve McQueen, who she later married.
Sam Peckinpah shot the opening prison scenes at the Huntsville penitentiary, with Steve McQueen surrounded by actual convicts.
The film’s original score was composed by frequent Sam Peckinpah collaborator Jerry Fielding, but was replaced, at Steve McQueen’s insistence, with the lighter, jazzier film score by Quincy Jones, shortly before the film’s release. Peckinpah was unhappy with this action and took out a full-page ad in Daily Variety on November 17, 1972, including a letter he had written to Fielding thanking him for his work.
Picture copyrights: Warner Home Video