Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a raw movie that shares more in common with a Western, yet doesn’t stick to the conventions of that genre.
The very direct title really tells you all you need to know without giving you the details. It raises so many questions and I needed them answered. Who was Alfredo Garcia? Who wants his head? Why do they want his head? We get most of the questions answered during the opening scene.
The young daughter of a wealthy Mexican businessman gets impregnated and the businessman puts out a one million dollar bounty for the head of Alfredo Garcia. Literally. He even says “bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia” in the first fifteen minutes or so of the movie. Word gets out about the bounty and we meet Bennie (Warren Oates) who knows Alfredo, or Al, and sets out with his girlfriend, a prostitute, to find him.
When I said Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is “raw”, it predominately comes through in the characters. Bennie is not a likable guy, necessarily, but we connect with him and he doesn’t go looking for violence. Bennie also ends up having a very odd relationship with Alfredo’s head. Traveling together, Bennie speaks to the dismembered head like an old friend. I don’t want to speak too much to the plot without giving anything away, but Alfredo Garcia is one of the most interesting characters in cinema history.
I was unsure about Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia because there were a few odd moments at the beginning of the film. Notably, a prostitute getting knocked out by an elbow check by one of the bounty hunters. I’m not sure if it was meant to be funny, but I laughed. I also had a problem with my copy of the movie, and about half way through it had to stop and order a new copy. Normally, I don’t like having that much of a gap when watching something, but since I had been thinking about the movie it was fine.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is what I would dub a modern Western noir. It is a gritty film that works with what is presented. Warren Oates is fantastic and apparently channeled Sam Peckinpah (the director) for his character. I’ve never quite seen anything else like it.
I give it 5 amazing, but unfortunately fake Criterion covers out of 5.