Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

R | 112 mins | Drama | 1974

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HISTORY

On 25 Nov 1972, LAHExam announced the establishment of a co-financing deal between United Artists Corp. and Churubusco Studios in Mexico for four films including Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia . As reported in DV on 22 Nov 1972, Churubusco, a subsidiary of Banco Cinematografico, negotiated to contribute cash and studio facilities to the American films in exchange for distribution rights in Mexico. United Artists would retain the right to distribute the films in the rest of the world. Various contemporary sources, including HR and Var , reported on 29 Aug 1973 that Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia was the first film to be produced in a “multi-picture pact” between producer Martin Baum, formerly head of ABC Pictures, and United Artists Corp.
       Baum told DV on 9 Nov 1973 that Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia represented a “new trend” in casting. The production defied the traditional pay scale of the Hollywood “star system” in which successful actors were unwilling to accept smaller roles at reduced wages for fear of losing their prominence. Baum pointed out that unlike their American counterparts, English actors such as Laurence Olivier often performed in small parts and theater productions to advance their careers. In Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia , famous American actors, including Kris Kristofferson, in the role of “Paco,” and Gig Young, in the role of “Quill,” agreed to take on small parts at the minimum wage rate determined by the Screen Actors Guild. Baum noted that the roles were not “cameos” but ... More Less

On 25 Nov 1972, LAHExam announced the establishment of a co-financing deal between United Artists Corp. and Churubusco Studios in Mexico for four films including Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia . As reported in DV on 22 Nov 1972, Churubusco, a subsidiary of Banco Cinematografico, negotiated to contribute cash and studio facilities to the American films in exchange for distribution rights in Mexico. United Artists would retain the right to distribute the films in the rest of the world. Various contemporary sources, including HR and Var , reported on 29 Aug 1973 that Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia was the first film to be produced in a “multi-picture pact” between producer Martin Baum, formerly head of ABC Pictures, and United Artists Corp.
       Baum told DV on 9 Nov 1973 that Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia represented a “new trend” in casting. The production defied the traditional pay scale of the Hollywood “star system” in which successful actors were unwilling to accept smaller roles at reduced wages for fear of losing their prominence. Baum pointed out that unlike their American counterparts, English actors such as Laurence Olivier often performed in small parts and theater productions to advance their careers. In Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia , famous American actors, including Kris Kristofferson, in the role of “Paco,” and Gig Young, in the role of “Quill,” agreed to take on small parts at the minimum wage rate determined by the Screen Actors Guild. Baum noted that the roles were not “cameos” but rather challenging parts that offered the actors a departure from standard lead characters; Kristofferson played a rapist and Young was a villain. According to Baum, the actors were not compensated with stock or points in the film’s profits. Rather, they worked “out of respect for (director) Sam Peckinpah” and would have performed “for free if the Guild would allow them.”
       As reported in HR production charts on 5 Oct 1973, principal photography began 1 Oct 1973. DV , on 28 Nov 1973, noted that filming was underway in Oxtopipac, Mexico. The final publication of HR production charts for the film on 25 Jan 1974 indicated that shooting was taking place in Mexico City.
       The film’s location sparked controversy with the National Conference of Motion Picture and Television Unions (NCMPTU). Various contemporary news sources, including DV on 9 Nov 1973 and LAT on 14 Dec 1973, reported that after an Oct 1973 meeting in Detroit, the NCMPTU labeled the film a “runaway” production because it was filmed entirely in Mexico and it threatened to launch a nation-wide boycott. As noted in DV on 29 Oct 1973, the unions’ concerns were triggered by Peckinpah’s comments in a 10 Oct 1973 interview with Var . Referring, in part, to his ten-year residency in Mexico, 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 here.” Although Baum defended Peckinpah and denied the “runaway” label, noting that the film’s script was specifically situated in Mexico and that Peckinpah’s next film, The Killer Elite (1975, see entry) was scheduled to be filmed in Hollywood, the runaway committee of the NCMPTU contended that Mexican locations for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia could have been substituted with sites in the American Southwest, according to DV on 26 Nov 1973. United Artists informed the committee that they were working in association with Churubusco, but NCMPTU demanded additional information about the production, such as the number of Americans on the crew and their identities. The committee told DV that their efforts were being lauded by unions across the United States, including the Brotherhood of Teamsters.
       In regard to his statements, Peckinpah told DV on 28 Nov 1973 that Hollywood transformed because studios such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M), which had expanded its interests into the hotel industry, lost their focus on filmmaking. He noted that he was a member of three of the unions participating in the threatened boycott and suggested that instead of pursuing his film, the unions should collaborate with worker organizations internationally to find ways to compete with foreign studios that are able to make films for less money. Peckinpah told DV that he was willing to instigate a legal injunction that would prevent the boycott and, if necessary, he would take the case to the Supreme Court.
       At the same time, as reported in LAT , Peckinpah was intending to bring a $1 million lawsuit against M-G-M for their unauthorized editing of his most recent film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973, see entry). Peckinpah speculated that the pending union boycott of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia was an offshoot of this dispute because it was prompted by his comments in DV that were critical of M-G-M. Alternatively, Baum argued in the LAT article that the unions targeted Peckinpah because of the controversial content of his films and the “colorful” nature of his personality. He noted that the frequency of articles about the subject in trade publications proved that Peckinpah was a good conduit for the NCMPTU to get the issue of “runaway” productions in the press. Peckinpah added that Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid should have been filmed in New Mexico, but M-G-M insisted on Mexican locations to save money, and he wondered why the unions did not protest M-G-M instead of him.
       On 9 Jan 1974, DV reported a compromise between NCMPTU and United Artists. After a meeting in Dallas on 7 Jan 1974, the unions agreed to call off the boycott if United Artists provided evidence that all post-production work was completed in the United States. DV noted that several attendees at the hearing upheld United Artists’ claim that the film was not a “runaway” production because the film’s story was located in Mexico.
       After the film’s international release, it was banned in countries such as West Germany and Argentina due to its violence.
       On 8 Mar 2002, DV announced that M-G-M was producing a remake of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia as a star vehicle for actor Benicio Del Toro. As of 2011, the remake has not yet been produced.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Sep 1973.
---
Box Office
12 Aug 1974
p. 4711.
Box Office
16 Jun 1975.
---
Daily Variety
22 Nov 1972.
---
Daily Variety
29 Oct 1973.
---
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1973.
---
Daily Variety
9 Nov 1973
p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1973
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
28 Nov 1973
p. 1, 9.
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1973.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1974
p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety
7 Aug 1974.
---
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1974.
---
Daily Variety
8 Mar 2002.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1973
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1974
p. 28.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 1974
p. 3.
LAHExam
25 Nov 1972
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
14 Dec 1973
pp. 26-27.
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 1974
Section IV, p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Aug 1974
p. 24.
New York Times
15 Aug 1974
p. 28.
Newsweek
26 Aug 1974
p. 82.
Time
16 Sep 1974
p. 6.
Variety
29 Aug 1973.
---
Variety
10 Oct 1973.
---
Variety
14 Nov 1973.
---
Variety
16 Jan 1974.
---
Variety
7 Aug 1974
p. 18.
Variety
4 Sep 1974.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring
Starring
Guest Starring
Guest Starring
Guest Starring
Guest Starring
Guest Starring
Featuring
Featuring
Featuring
+

PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Martin Baum Sam Peckinpah Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Exec prod mgr/1st asst dir
Unit prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mexican mus coord
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Dial dir
Prod asst to the dir
Scr supv
Casting dir
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Bennie's Song," by Isela Vega
"A Donde Ir," by Javier Vega
"Bad Blood Baby," by Sam Peckinpah
+
SONGS
"Bennie's Song," by Isela Vega
"A Donde Ir," by Javier Vega
"Bad Blood Baby," by Sam Peckinpah
"J.F.," by Arturo Castro.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 7 August 1974
New York opening: 14 August 1974
Production Date:
1 October 1973--late January 1974 at Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 July 1974
Copyright Number:
LP43775
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
DeLuxe
Duration(in mins):
112
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23989
SYNOPSIS

A pregnant girl is lead by guards to an assembly of townspeople. Her father, a wealthy Latin American patriarch, inquires about the paternity of her unborn child. The girl is stripped and tortured until she answers: Alfredo Garcia. As she is carried away, the patriarch announces a $1 million reward for Alfredo Garcia’s head, and his henchmen begin a search across Mexico. At a Mexico City bar, Bennie, an American pianist, offers the henchmen drinks on the house to learn about the bounty. As the men fill Bennie’s tip jar and tell him they are operating out of the Hotel Camino Real, Bennie promises to hand Garcia over as a dead man. After discovering from the bartender that Garcia recently had an affair with his girlfriend, Elita, Bennie tracks her down at a club and accuses her of cheating. When Bennie threatens to kill Garcia, Elita tells him that Garcia is already dead from a drunk driving accident the previous week. At the Hotel Camino Real, Bennie is offered $1,000 for information about Garcia, but he does not reveal that Garcia is dead. After a brief negotiation, Bennie agrees to bring them Garcia’s head for $10,000. Back at Bennie’s apartment, Elita seduces him and in the morning, Bennie tells her that they are going on a picnic with the hope that she will lead him to Garcia’s grave. When they leave town, two Mexican bounty hunters follow in a green station wagon. Bennie tells Elita that Garcia is their ticket to a better life and he promises to marry her. Although Elita is reluctant to participate in ... +


A pregnant girl is lead by guards to an assembly of townspeople. Her father, a wealthy Latin American patriarch, inquires about the paternity of her unborn child. The girl is stripped and tortured until she answers: Alfredo Garcia. As she is carried away, the patriarch announces a $1 million reward for Alfredo Garcia’s head, and his henchmen begin a search across Mexico. At a Mexico City bar, Bennie, an American pianist, offers the henchmen drinks on the house to learn about the bounty. As the men fill Bennie’s tip jar and tell him they are operating out of the Hotel Camino Real, Bennie promises to hand Garcia over as a dead man. After discovering from the bartender that Garcia recently had an affair with his girlfriend, Elita, Bennie tracks her down at a club and accuses her of cheating. When Bennie threatens to kill Garcia, Elita tells him that Garcia is already dead from a drunk driving accident the previous week. At the Hotel Camino Real, Bennie is offered $1,000 for information about Garcia, but he does not reveal that Garcia is dead. After a brief negotiation, Bennie agrees to bring them Garcia’s head for $10,000. Back at Bennie’s apartment, Elita seduces him and in the morning, Bennie tells her that they are going on a picnic with the hope that she will lead him to Garcia’s grave. When they leave town, two Mexican bounty hunters follow in a green station wagon. Bennie tells Elita that Garcia is their ticket to a better life and he promises to marry her. Although Elita is reluctant to participate in Bennie’s plan to exhume Garcia, she is moved by his desire to get married. That evening, as Elita cooks dinner over a campfire, the couple is accosted by two motorcyclists. When the men draw guns, Bennie allows one of them to take Elita from the camp. Although she is threatened with rape, Elita becomes entranced by her assailant and kisses him passionately. Meanwhile, Bennie knocks out the remaining motorcyclist, runs to rescue Elita and shoots her would-be attacker dead. When his partner comes to, Bennie kills him. As the couple drives away, Bennie demands that Elita take him to Garcia’s grave. Although Elita cries in protest, Bennie argues that Garcia’s grave, and the body within it, is not sacred. Despite her plea to return home, Elita agrees, but she vows to leave Bennie afterward. In the cemetery of a colonial Spanish village, Elita directs Bennie to Garcia’s gravesite, which is attended by mourners who ask them to leave. After checking into a filthy hotel, Bennie consoles Elita by telling her that Garcia would want her to enjoy the benefits of financial independence. That evening, Bennie and Elita return to the grave, but Bennie is knocked unconscious as he prepares to decapitate the body. He awakens to find himself partially buried in Garcia’s grave with Elita by his side, dead. Garcia’s head is gone. Anguished, Bennie washes his face and locals tell him that Garcia’s head was seized by men in a green station wagon. Not far from town, Bennie sees the men changing a tire and kills them to recoup the head. As he drives away, the head attracts flies and begins to decompose. Meanwhile, Garcia’s family trails Bennie. They find him in a small town, putting the head on ice to keep it fresh and as Bennie drives away, the family surrounds him at gunpoint. Although Bennie offers cash to an elderly family member, she refuses and her relatives give her Garcia’s head. Meanwhile, two of the patriarch’s henchmen arrive, pretending to be misguided tourists. They fire on Garcia’s family with machine guns. When Bennie asks for his payment, the surviving henchman aims his gun, but Bennie returns fire and kills him. Stealing their car, Bennie returns home, where he adds more ice to Garcia’s head and gives it a shower. Some time later, he brings the head to Hotel Camino Real in Elita’s picnic basket. Wanting to know the head’s actual worth, he asks the men for the story behind the bounty, but when they refuse to tell him, he becomes enraged and shoots them dead. As one of the henchmen dies, he procures the patriarch’s business card. Bennie flies to the patriarch’s compound in Latin America and arrives during the baptismal ceremony of his daughter’s illegitimate newborn. Bennie turns over Garcia’s head and is compensated with a briefcase of one million dollars, but he is unsatisfied by the deal because it resulted in so much bloodshed. In a rage, Bennie starts a gun battle and kills the old man at the command of his daughter. As Bennie drives through the gates of the compound, however, he is riddled with bullets and dies. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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