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Sam Peckinpah
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Sam Peckinpah

Sam Peckinpah (February 21, 1925 - 1984) was an American film director.


His great-grandfather, Rice Peckinpaugh, was a merchant and farmer in Indiana during the early-1800s. The family decided to move to California in the 1850s to Humboldt County, California of California, and also changed their last name to Peckinpah. The family then settled down in the area to log. As a result, Peckinpah Meadow and Peckinpah Creek have been officially named within US geographical mapping.


He was born in Fresno, California and attended Fresno grammar schools and high school. However, he spent much time skipping classes with his brother to engage in cowboy activities like trapping, branding, and shooting. Sam joined the Marines in 1943 to then be stationed in China on supportive roles. While his duty did not involve in any combat situations, he had spent his time witness to acts of war between the Republic of China and Japan. After the war he attended college, earning a master's degree at USC in 1950.


He worked initially as a scriptwriter and director of Western genre television series such as Gunsmoke and The Rifleman. In the early 1960s he moved into film and earned a reputation in Hollywood as the enfant terrible of the cinematic world. His feature films were spectacularly violent, and liable to interpretation in often contradictory fashions.

Peckinpah's violent films had many fans, and not only among the public but fans such as Pauline Kael who reviewed films in bravura style for the New Yorker magazine. His films were visually inventive, having a style of unconventional film-making.

What disturbed Peckinpah's critics was not only how much blood and gore was spilled in his movies, but how often violence was cast as a redeeming action, bringing closure to its perpetrators and a brand of rough justice to its victims.

Peckinpah drank and abused drugs, friends and producers. It was during the filming of The Killer Elite (1975) where Sam discovered cocaine. This led to an increased paranoia and his slow breakdown psychologically. At one point he overdosed landing, himself in a hospital and receiving a second pacemaker. Sam Peckinpah died from heart failure at the age of 59 while in Mexico. He is generally regarded as one of the most influential cinema directors of his or any generation.