A paradox who both cultivated and disdained his own legend as one of Hollywood's most notoriously difficult directors, Sam Peckinpah evoked varied responses to his often violent films that typically existed on a skewed moral plane between eras and cultures, with ambiguous quests for identity and redemption undertaken by hopelessly lost outcasts and enemies. Sometimes Peckinpah's search for meaning in film was a reflection of his own tattered life, which was cut short after years of serious alcohol and later drug abuse, leading to numerous quarrels with stars and studio executives that left him ostracized from the industry more than once. After receiving his start on television, Peckinpah made a powerful statement with only his second film, "Ride the High Country" (1962), a revisionist Western that presaged the greatness that came later in the decade. But he had a disaster on his hands with his next film, "Major Dundee" (1965), which was plagued by his increased onset drinking and a penchant for verbally abusing his cast. Practically banished from Hollywood, Peckinpah emerged triumphant with "The Wild Bunch" (1969), a classic revisionist Western that marked the true high point of his creative powers. From there, the director seemed to court controversy with every move, whether it was from the gruesome violence of "Straw Dogs" (1971) to the onset fights with Steve McQueen on "The Getaway" (1972) to the abstract minimalism of the confusing "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973). All throughout the decade, Peckinpah's health rapidly deteriorated brought on by serious alcohol abuse and later a cocaine addiction that flared up with "The Killer Elite" (1975). His final movies, "Cross of Iron" (1976), "Convoy" (1978) and "The Osterman Weekend" (1983) showed few flashes of the genius on display in the 1960s. Still, Peckinpah had already established his reputation as a great filmmaker able to elicit strong emotional responses with his kinetic and often operatic imagery, no matter how hard he tried to destroy it behind the scenes.