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William Holden in The Wild Bunch

William Holden as Pike Bishop in The Wild Bunch (1969).

William Holden as Pike Bishop in The Wild Bunch (1969).

Vitals

William Holden as Pike Bishop, grizzled bandit gang leader

Coahuila, Mexico, Spring 1913

Film: The Wild Bunch
Release Date: June 18, 1969
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Costume Designer: James R. Silke

Background

We’ve got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast.

…is what Pike Bishop wisely tells his men, an aging group of outlaws still anachronistically robbing banks and trains on horseback with a six-shooter on their hips. Pike knows the times are changing, and it doesn’t take a water-cooled machine gun or a Mexican general’s Packard to drive the point home to them.

Today would have been the 97th birthday of William Holden, who starred in classics like Sunset BoulevardStalag 17SabrinaThe Bridge on the River Kwai before taking on the role of the anachronistically self-aware Pike Bishop. Holden was one of many actors considered by Sam Peckinpah for the role; Lee Marvin had actually been cast but then turned it down to accept the higher-paying lead in Paint Your Wagon. It turned out well for Holden, who developed the character into one of the greatest movie badasses of all time… as even that sterling news source MTV agreed. Continue reading