“The Wild Bunch” Movie Quiz


By: Brittany Rowland

6 Min Quiz

Image: Warner Bros.-Seven Arts

About This Quiz

In 1969, the Western had been one of the most popular film genres for decades. Filmgoers adored the noble, tough and handsome cowboys like John Wayne who brought some sense of order to the Wild West. Even when the protagonists didn't exactly follow all the laws, they still had a "code of honor" as they settled personal scores or defended loved ones. Audiences, therefore, held a romantic view of life on the frontier, where civilization and all its rules had only a toehold and where disagreements were ended with a showdown between gunslingers.

But as the social unrest of the 1960s wore on, some audiences became disenchanted with the standard western. The United States was embroiled in a controversial war, a civil rights battle and a cultural revolution. With violent images of the Vietnam War being broadcast on TV in people's homes, there was a clear disparity between the glamorized movie violence served up as entertainment and the horrifying reality. 

Director Sam Peckinpah noted that difference, and he set out to make the kind of Western audiences had never seen before, one in which the heroes didn't ride off into the sunset at the conclusion. The end product, "The Wild Bunch," shocked audiences with its morally ambiguous characters and gruesomely realistic violence. Today, it's considered a classic in the Western genre, and in film overall.

So if you think you have the grit and temerity to show off your "Wild Bunch" knowledge, start the quiz below. Don't say we didn't warn ya, partner!

One of these actors does not appear in "The Wild Bunch." Who is it?

While the Wild Bunch could've used tough guy Steve McQueen in their gang, he doesn't appear in this film. He did, however, star in Sam Peckinpah's "The Getaway" (1972) with Ali MacGraw.


As the gang makes its getaway from the opening robbery, a reverend sings a hymn for a parade. What's the name of the hymn?

Robert Lowry's traditional hymn appeared in several Westerns directed by John Ford, notably "The Searchers." In "The Wild Bunch," the hopeful song plays as numerous characters are killed.


Which actor leads the gang of outlaws as Pike Bishop?

William Holden (1918-1981) was one of the leading actors of Hollywood, winning an Oscar for his role in "Stalag 17" (1953). His greatest passion, besides acting, was protecting animals.


Which "Wild Bunch" actor later played Mike Rogo in the 1972 film "The Poseidon Adventure"?

Italian-American actor Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012) won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in "Marty" (1955). Younger viewers may know him as Mermaid Man in "SpongeBob SquarePants."


Critics believe "The Wild Bunch" was a reaction to what event in American history?

Peckinpah subverted the traditional Western in "The Wild Bunch," making sure not to glamorize the outlaws. Critics read "The Wild Bunch" as a response to the Vietnam War and its horrible violence.


William Holden played a different sort of character in which classic 1957 film also starring Alec Guinness?

William Holden appeared in David Lean's classic World War II film "The Bridge on the River Kwai" as Shears, an American P.O.W. He gets involved in a dangerous plot against his captors.


Deke Thornton agrees to help bounty hunters find Pike in exchange for what?

Deke Thornton used to be in the Wild Bunch. At some point, though, Thornton was arrested and received parole in exchange for helping a gang of bounty hunters track his old friend.


Angel demands that some of the stolen rifles be used for what purpose?

Still reeling from Mapache's attack on his village, Angel persuades Pike to let him give some of the stolen rifles back to his village as a means of defense. Take that, Mapache!


Mapache is headquartered in which city?

The Wild Bunch find the general in Agua Verde and, surprisingly, accept a job from him: stealing weapons. With Angel's grudge against Mapache, though, things will surely go awry!


Pike says what famous line to his men during the opening robbery?

Pike utters these famous words to the Wild Bunch during the opening robbery, signaling to the audience that these outlaws mean business and won't hold back to spare innocent lives.


What happens to Angel's girlfriend Teresa?

Angel loses it when he spies Teresa with his sworn enemy, Mapache, and shoots his former lover in a jealous rage. You just know Angel's rash act will have tragic consequences.


Mapache's people capture this member of the Wild Bunch.

We knew Angel's actions would come back to haunt him. Angel gave some of Mapache's rifles to rebels, and Teresa's father informed Mapache. Will the Wild Bunch come to the rescue?


The Wild Bunch sees a group of kids placing which animals on an ant hill?

On their way to rob the railroad office, the gang of outlaws observes some children putting scorpions on a red ant hill. This troubling image foreshadows the grim events of the film.


You'd think anyone would jump at the chance to play Pike, but you'd be mistaken. Who declined the role?

Many famous actors turned down the role of Pike, including Charlton Heston and Robert Mitchum. In the end, William Holden delivered an unforgettable performance as the aging outlaw.


Only one of the following characters survives to the end of the film. Who is it?

When Deke Thornton comes upon the recent carnage in Agua Verde, he seems sorry to see his old friends lying dead. He leaves the bounty hunter gang behind after taking Pike's gun.


One actor reportedly complained to director Peckinpah about not getting top billing. Who was it?

Sam Peckinpah got fed up with Robert Ryan over this issue and placed Ryan's name over some horses' behinds in the opening credits. That's one way to go down to posterior—er, posterity.


Crazy Lee is which character's grandson?

Pike loses many men during the botched robbery, including Crazy Lee. Only later does Pike learn that Crazy Lee was Sykes' grandson. Pike reassures Sykes that C.L. did "fine ... just fine."


Which actor objected to wearing a fake mustache for the film but then ended up wearing one?

Leading man William Holden was clean-shaven in most of his previous films. But Peckinpah had a vision for his grizzled, gritty characters, who likely didn't have much time to shave!


Who kills Pike in the final showdown?

Pike decides he's going out in this final showdown, and he doesn't hold back as he shoots Mapache's men. A woman does shoot Pike, but it's ultimately a child who delivers the killing shot.


This composer wrote the music for "The Wild Bunch."

Jerry Fielding's unforgettable soundtracks for Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch" and "Straw Dogs" both earned him Oscar nominations. He collaborated with Peckinpah on other films, too.


The railroad robbery is done, and the gang members check their bags of loot. What's inside?

The deadly robbery at the beginning was for naught. Pike and his men discover that the railroad company tricked them, giving them bags of washers rather than the money they'd expected.


"The Wild Bunch" opens in which Texas town?

The small Texas town where the Wild Bunch rob the railroad office is the fictional Starbuck. No one's prepared for the bloody gunfight between the outlaws and the bounty hunters.


The film crew gave the final showdown between the Wild Bunch and Mapache's army a special name. What was it?

The final showdown was so realistic in its gruesome depictions of carnage that it disturbed crew members who had seen actual combat in the war. It was just the effect Peckinpah wanted.


Coffer, the bounty hunter, sings what popular song?

The carefree traditional song "Polly Wolly Doodle" has been sung by such kid-friendly figures as Shirley Temple and Donald Duck. Then Peckinpah inserts it into the shockingly violent "The Wild Bunch," to ironic effect.


The Gorch brothers are a wild pair. What are their first names?

Ben Johnson (Tector) and Warren Oates (Lyle) played the infamous Gorch brothers. As a fun bit of trivia, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" featured vampire brothers by the same names.


Famous Mexican actor Emilio Fernandez (Mapache) previously appeared in a film adaptation of which John Steinbeck work?

Emilio Fernandez (1904-1986) remains a dominant figure in the history of Mexican film. One film that he is known for is "The Pearl," the adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1947 novella.


"We all dream of being a child again, even the worst of us—perhaps the worst most of all." Who says this?

Children appear throughout the film as witnesses to—and often participants in—the violence surrounding the main characters. Could Peckinpah be commenting on human nature? Hmm ...


Pike says, "Ten thousand [dollars] cuts an awful lot of family ties." Who's he talking to?

While Angel argues that the weapons they're stealing for Mapache could be used to kill their family, Pike views it as just a job. Still, he agrees to let Angel take one box of rifles.


Who is responsible for killing Angel's father and stealing his girlfriend Teresa?

The Wild Bunch's trouble in Mexico begins when they discover that General Mapache raided Angel's village and executed his father. Understandably, Angel has a score to settle with him.


An injury on a previous film left this actor with a real limp in "The Wild Bunch."

Ernest Borgnine wore a cast on his foot during "The Wild Bunch" after breaking it shooting "The Split" the previous year, resulting in a noticeable limp. Now that's showing true grit!


One well-known film critic described "The Wild Bunch" as "a traumatic poem of violence." Who was it?

In "The New Yorker," Pauline Kael compared the film to Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" in terms of the scope and magnitude. She also mourned for each character, despite their flaws.


Why does Pike shoot Buck?

Buck is one of the few who survives the shootout at the beginning of the film, but he is gravely injured and blinded by a gunshot. When Pike sees Buck's injuries, he shoots his old comrade.


This person wrote the screenplay with Sam Peckinpah.

"The Wild Bunch" is one of Walon Green's best-known writing credits, but he also produced a number of hit shows, including "NYPD Blue" and "Law & Order." Hey, those are pretty gritty too.


"The Wild Bunch" takes place during the Mexican Revolution in which year?

The Mexican Revolution, which started in 1910 and lasted about ten years, successfully ended a long dictatorship. The Wild Bunch head to Mexico in the middle of this long struggle.


Director Sam Peckinpah had other Westerns under his belt before "The Wild Bunch," including which film from 1962?

"Ride the High Country" set Peckinpah on the stage. The gripping tale of friendship and betrayal in the California Sierras echoed some of the themes found later in "The Wild Bunch."


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