Steve McQueen as Doc McCoy
Ali MacGraw as Carol McCoy
and Ben Johnson as Jack Benyon
Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw and a large bag of cash being chased around the country by a ruthless goon named Rudy (Al Lettieri of THE GODFATHER fame)... I'm not sure the "Is It a Good Movie?" question even applies here because we all know the answer but I guess one can always go the extra mile for those who haven't been fortunate enough over the past thirty-odd years to catch this one. Now there's nothing I despise more than a bad heist movie and nothing I enjoy more than a good one. This original version of THE GETAWAY definitely falls into the latter category as an entertaining heist/action flick starring one of that generation’s hottest on/off-screen partners. Back in 1972, there was simply no guy cooler than Steve McQueen and simply no woman more beautiful than Ali MacGraw. That dynamite combo exploded on screen in a thrilling ride along the countryside that featured plenty of McQueen’s trademark tough-guy allure and some of director Sam Peckinpah’s trademark gritty violence, liberally dispensed throughout. If anyone has learned of this story through the very weak 1994 remake by Roger Donaldson that starred then real-life couple Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, rest assured that the ’72 version is… well… good. For starters, it doesn’t star Alec Baldwin which is already a major improvement. As far as I know, McQueen didn’t threaten to move to France every election year only to stick around and utter the same threat four years later. (newsflash: threatening to stay would be scarier.)
Either way, Alec Baldwin-induced nightmares aside, his memory is quickly brushed away by the presence of Steve McQueen who exudes charm and virility (I’m not gay by the way) and who leads this caper through to the very bitter end. Ali MacGraw is a treat as well, not only because of her stunning beauty but also because her innocent air is in such contrast with a character who drives getaway cars, shoots guns at thugs and puts up with being slapped around by her husband! If anything really cements this movie together though, it has to be Al Lettieri's performance as Rudy, a raving mad lunatic chasing our heroes around town. Known more for his role as Virgil "The Turk" Sollozo put up one more great performance as a heavy, with convincing antipathy between his and McQueen's character as well as an eerily hilarious relationship with Fran (Sally Struthers), a victim he kidnaps in order to have some more help tracking down the runaways. Overall, a great movie that combines action, grit and some very talented actors along with a cool score and a really slick storyline. You absolutely can't go wrong with this one if you want to set yourself up for an action-packed evening.
Full Length Audio Commentary by Peckinpah Biographers/Documentarians Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle: This was a decent enough track to listen to provided you're already familiar with most of Peckinpah's work. The pace was just average and the guys could use a bit more enthusiasm but then again, they are biographers and documentarians... It's the kind of commentary you play in the background while you're working and latch on to when you overhear an interesting anecdote.
"Virtual" Commentary by Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw and Sam Peckinpah (11 minutes): Stuff like this is what makes the "extras" section on DVDs worth the while. The first reel of THE GETAWAY is dubbed with interviews with the three superstars who discuss the experience of making the film and working with each other. Strangely enough for a big McQueen/Peckinpah fan, the one I appreciated the most was MacGraw's because she gave a bit of insight on what working with these two must have been like. I would gladly have given my right arm for this track to go on for the entirety of the movie.