Movie Fact #192 - April 23rd, 2021
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
The 1969 film The Wild Bunch is noted for intricate, multi-angle, quick-cut editing using normal and slow motion images which was a revolutionary cinema technique for the time. The creative reason behind this was placing greater emphasis on the chaotic nature of the action and the gunfights in the film. This was leant to by the film's editor, Lou Lombardo, who previously worked with the film's director Sam Peckinpah on the 1966 television film Noon Wine, and thus Lombardo was personally hired by the director to edit The Wild Bunch. This was because Peckinpah had wanted an editor who would be loyal to him as well as Lombardo's youth as he was not bound by traditional conventions.
Lombardo's idea to do quick-cuts from multiple angles actually stemmed from a 1967 episode he did for the television show Felony Squad. Entitled "My Mommy Got Lost", the episode included a slow motion sequence where Joe Don Baker is shot by the police. The scene mixed slow motion with normal speed, having been filmed at 24 frames per second but triple printed optically at 72 frames per second. Peckinpah was reportedly thrilled, telling Lombardo, "Let's try some of that when we get down to Mexico!" Thus, the director would film the major shootouts with six cameras, operating at various film rates, including 24 frames per second, 30 frames per second, 60 frames per second, 90 frames per second, and 120 frames per second. When the scenes were eventually cut together, the action would shift from slow to fast to slower still, giving time an elastic quality never before seen in motion pictures up to that time. The rest was history. Stay tuned!