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MAY 13–JUNE 12

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If I were an aging gunfighter facing certain death in a slowly but surely changing West, I’d want to go out with a serious bang. And I don’t mean in a The Shootist, settling-all-vendettas-before-dying-of-prostate-cancer or a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, bum-rushing-a-gang-of-Bolivian-soldiers kind of way. I’m talking about taking out half the Mexican army with a Gatling gun, my body so full of lead they’d have to bury me in a pencil box, before finally being shot down in a slo-mo, frantically edited, impossibly epic storm of bullets—just like in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (pictured). (Preferably with Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory” blaring from the speakers of a huge-ass boombox inexplicably available within an early-20th-century Mexican fortress.) And I imagine that, while my shredded shell of a body was flailing around in a grotesque ballet of death, the last question to run through my mind would be How in the hell did I end up here? The answer, of course, is the always irresistible Last Score. And, be it of the dignified-ex-lawman-escorting-a-shipment-of-gold (Ride the High Country) or the robbing-a-bank-to-repay-a-debt-to-a-corrupt-politician (The Getaway) variety, it’s a theme that rears its foreboding head time and time again in Peckinpah’s films. They say that your gunbelt’s always in the last place you look—because that’s when you find it. So when you’re heading out for that last score, know that you won’t so much be retiring to the farm afterward as you will be buyin’ it. Catch William Holden’s blaze of glory on the big screen when the series begins Friday, May 13, and runs through Sunday, June 12 (see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Matthew Borlik)