Director Sam Peckinpah’s 1974 film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, starring Warren Oates, is one of my favorite movies from the Seventies.
There are no famous quotes in it, but the film’s title is a modern descendant of a famous quote associated with the date August 29.
Herod had married his own niece and they had a daughter.
Righteous John publicly denounced the marriage as incestuous and against Jewish law.
Herod threw John in prison. Not long after, the king threw himself a birthday party. The featured entertainer was his daughter.
Salome – the one known for the exotic “Dance of the Seven Veils.”
Salome apparently tripped the light fantastic in an especially pleasing way at Herod’s birthday bash.
He told her he wanted to reward her by giving her anything she wanted.
At the suggestion of her mother, Salome replied: “Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.”
That’s the King James Version of what she said, in Matthew 14:8. It uses the old English word charger, meaning a large platter or dish.
Later translations and paraphrases of the line generally used platter, giving rise to variations like “Give me the head of John the Baptist on a platter” or “Bring me the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
This led to the English idiom “to bring (or have) someone’s head on a platter,” which is a figurative way of suggesting that someone will be punished severely.
Of course, in the Bible story (and in the movie Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) it was a literal punishment.
Herod gave Salome her wish, by ordering John’s head to be cut off and brought to her on a platter.
In the centuries since then, August 29 has been the traditional date the Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churches have used to commemorate the beheading and martyrdom of John the Baptist.
Alfredo Garcia, the beheaded movie character, is less widely remembered. But he does have a special place in the hearts of Sam Peckinpah fans like me.
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