Saturday, March 3, 2012

L.Q. Jones Keeps an Eye on Sam

Recently, I wrote up The Wild Bunch for TCM's Essentials. It was an enjoyable task as I got to read loads of biographies, autobiographies and all manner of background information on the film itself, a personal favorite. This story comes from Bloody Sam: The Life and Films of Sam Peckinpah by Marshall Fine as it was originally related to Fine by L.Q. Jones. Enjoy.

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As Peckinpah entered preproduction on The Wild Bunch, he called in L. Q. Jones, whom he cast as a bounty hunter, for a chat about something else. But he turned the conversation to his own personal devils.

Jones was astonished when Peckinpah asked him, "What's the matter? What is it I do?" He seemed sincerely interested in probing the personality problems that seemed inevitably to trip him. So Jones gave it to him with both barrels.

"Sam, you're a horse's ass, you're stupid and you pick on small people," Jones said. "You don't think and you don't consider other people."

Peckinpah nodded in eager agreement, as though a light bulb had just illuminated his brain. "You're right," he said. "Well, keep an eye on me and if you catch me doing that, point it out to me."

As they were talking, the phone rang on Peckinpah's desk. Picking it up, Peckinpah said, "Why, you unconscious[sic] cunt," and reeled off angry obscenities at whoever was on the line for five minutes before hanging up. Then be turned back to Jones as though nothing had happened and continued, "I'm serious. I want you to keep an eye on me," oblivious to what he had just done on the telephone.*

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*unconscious should be unconscionable