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Sam Peckinpah did this at least twice:

The Wild Bunch: The film opens with an Old West-style bank robbery in progress, but as we see more detail, we notice that several of the bandits are armed with Colt 1911's, a semi-automatic pistol, placing the film in the 20th century. (The implication is that history has passed these men by and they are throwbacks to an earlier time.)

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia: The movie opens on a rural hacienda. We see a pregnant young woman in a white dress. She is escorted away by men dressed as cowboys and taken to a chapel where a group of men await. Everything we see suggests the 19th century, except for a single man in the background in the chapel in a modern suit. The plot point ensues, and we cut to a jet plane landing. Thus Peckinpah brings us from the old west into contemporary times with a few short scenes.

My question is, did Peckinpah create this technique or was it something he may have lifted from an earlier director?

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  • Miss Peregrine's just did this. The intro was all retro newspapers, then smash cut to 2016 Florida. For reasons important to the plot, obviously. – cde Oct 14 '16 at 22:18
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The Wild Bunch takes place against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Supposedly the movie takes place in 1913. The Colt obviously existed for some period prior to US army adoption date of 1911 (thereby M1911) In fact it is a derivative of a series of pistols by John Browning originally entered into army trials circa 1907. The pistol is then exactly in period - as are the uniforms and as would be Pershing's troops who patrolled the Mexican border with model T fords. General Mapache is later seen in the movie in a Packard (?) The theme being played on is an emerging new mechanised world as the older one fades. The bandits are the remnants of the old order. Their reminiscences are all of the previous century. Their aim is for one last score. They are living on borrowed time. The exception is Angel who is caught between two worlds, two eras and two loyalties. It is only later and after his death that the gang recognise him as one of their own.

Compare this movie with some of the themes in 'Fistful of Dynamite / Duck you Sucker'. Mallory - the Irish revolutionary in the aftermath of the Easter Rising (1915) finds himself as an explosives expert caught up in the Revolution. Here however you find weapons that are not compatible with the time frame. The machine gun used in the attack on the bridge did not exist for at least another 10 years.

As for the 'time skip' you refer to - in this context it does therefore not really apply. Everything is in period detail. If Pike Bishop is in his 50's then he was a young man in the aftermath of the Civil War when the West was still Wild. The frontier was not 'closed' until 1890, but by that time things had already moved on.

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  • Another interesting point would be the use of strange and varied hand guns in Westerns. A C96 Mauser pops up here and there ( The Great Silence), a Galand revolver in The Good, Bad Ugly. A Steyr M1912 and several anachronistic weapons in Duck You Sucker. The M1911 also comes up with Le Marvin in The Professionals. There is a correlation in the development of the automatic pistol and the demise of the Western Theme. – Kiowa May 17 at 16:22

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