An all-time action classic and one of Director Sam Peckinpah's best, 1972's THE GETAWAY is a wild ride from start to finish.
Steve McQueen is Doc McCoy, a bank robber who gets early parole when his wife Carol (played by real life girlfriend at the time Ali MacGraw) spends some extra time with crooked businessman Jack Benyon, well played by 70's stalwart Ben Johnson (The Last Picture Show, The Wild Bunch).
Doc is barely out of jail when Benyon and his henchmen approach Doc with a plan to rob a local bank.
They force Doc to use their two crew members Rudy and Frank, who prove to be a very bad fit. Rudy is a great screen bad buy embodied by Al Lettieri (The Godfather, Where Eagles Dare), whose relentless pursuit of Doc and Carol after the robbery drives the entire second half of the film.
McQueen proves again why he's a movie star, turning an unsavory, brutish thief like Doc into a character you care about. MacGraw is (as always) a horrible actress, with a flat delivery that drove Peckinpah crazy. The roadside scene where Doc roughs up Carol is legendary for the fact that McQueen really slapped her and kept pushing her when they could not get the reaction they wanted while filming. It's the only time you really believe that Carol may leave him, even though she delivers for Doc at every turn.
You have to hand it to MacGraw and her driving and weapons training for the film. She looks very comfortable doing some incredible high speed stunt driving during a wild pursuit that would destroy any Sonic Drive-in.
The action scenes are spread throughout and are some of Peckinpah's best. The bank robbery is terrific, perfectly timed to Quincy Jones' inventive music score that alternates between harmonica infused jazz to high pitch action riffs.
Watch for two TV sitcom legends as the couple Rudy kidnaps for his own getaway. "All in the Family"s Sally Struthers and Jack Dodson (Howard Sprague on Andy Griffith) play against type as a vet and his bored wife, who is clearly ready for adventure.
The finale in the Texas hotel is fantastic, as is the final scene with Slim Pickens as a junk collector in the right place at the right time.
Modern Texas has rarely looked this desolate and dusty on film, but would again in Taylor Sheridan's excellent cops & robbers drama "Hell or High Water" in 2016.
A crime thriller for the ages, THE GETAWAY delivers the goods and gets an A+. It's also in my all-time Top 100.
Avoid the horrible 1995 remake with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger at all costs, it's a pale imitation of the original.