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Ride the High Country

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Overview

This Sam Peckinpah-directed feature outing was intended as the cinematic swan song for both Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea; while McCrea would unexpectedly emerge from retirement, this 1961 western serves as an excellent valedictory for both men. The time is the early 1900s, when the Old West was slowly and stubbornly giving way to the new. McCrea plays Steve Judd, an ex-lawman living on the fringes of poverty but maintaining his dignity and honesty. Hired to escort a gold shipment from the wide-open mining town ...
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Overview

This Sam Peckinpah-directed feature outing was intended as the cinematic swan song for both Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea; while McCrea would unexpectedly emerge from retirement, this 1961 western serves as an excellent valedictory for both men. The time is the early 1900s, when the Old West was slowly and stubbornly giving way to the new. McCrea plays Steve Judd, an ex-lawman living on the fringes of poverty but maintaining his dignity and honesty. Hired to escort a gold shipment from the wide-open mining town of Coarse Gold, he engages his old pal Gil Westrum Scott to help him. But Gil hasn't Steve's integrity, and he and his young saddle pal Heck Longtree Ronald Starr hope to talk Steve into helping them steal the gold. En route to Coarse Gold, the three riders spend the night at the farm of a religious fanatic R.G. Armstrong, whose daughter Elsa Mariette Hartley in her film debut, chafing at her father's loud piety, is planning to elope with her boyfriend Billy James Drury. The next day, Elsa insists on joining up with the group so she can marry Billy at Coarse Gold, leading to numerous complications and, of course, a final shoot-out that allows Steve and Gil to reconcile their differences and pave the way for the film's elegiac finale. Released at the tail end of the western genre, and virtually thrown away by MGM, Ride the High Country feels like an elegy for the western itself -- and Peckinpah himself would go on to revise western conventions with such later efforts as The Wild Bunch 1969 and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid 1973.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Sam Peckinpah's second feature united aging Western stars Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott in a beautiful meditation on the passing of the West's heroes. Having survived into the automobile age, McCrea's ex-sheriff stoically maintains his honorable values while Scott's Wild West performer parodies himself for cash. Even as a job guarding gold puts them on opposite sides of the law, the need to safeguard the next generation from extremes of piety and pragmatism finally unites them. Devoid of the brutal violence that would mark Peckinpah's later revisonist Western The Wild Bunch (1969), Ride the High Country explores similar ideas with a literate, autumnal approach -- although, in Peckinpah's world, violence is still justified to battle the savage remnants of an untamed Western past. Cinematographer Lucien Ballard's spectacular landscapes glorify the waning high country, underscoring Peckinpah's elegy to a better, if difficult, time. MGM buried Ride the High Country on the bottom of a double bill, but critics still noticed its charm and newcomer Mariette Hartley as Elsa; the first of several Peckinpah Westerns eulogizing the genre, it has since come to be seen as one of his best films.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/25/1994
  • UPC: 027616085030
  • Original Release: 1962
  • Source: Mgm (Warner)
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Joel McCrea Steve Judd
Randolph Scott Gil Westrum
Mariette Hartley Elsa Knudsen
Ron Starr Heck Longtree
James Drury Billy Hammond
Edgar Buchanan Judge Tolliver
Jenie Jackson Kate
R.G. Armstrong Joshua Knudsen
L.Q. Jones Sylvus Hammond
John Anderson Elder Hammond
Warren Oates Henry Hammond
Byron Foulger Abner Sampson
Percy Helton Luther Sampson
Carmen Phillips Saloon Girl
John Davis Chandler Jimmy Hammond
Technical Credits
Sam Peckinpah Director
Lucien Ballard Cinematographer
George Bassman Score Composer
Leroy Coleman Art Director
George W. Davis Art Director
Henry W. Grace Set Decoration/Design
Richard E. Lyons Producer
Hal W. Polaire Asst. Director
Frank Santillo Editor
Otto Siegel Set Decoration/Design
N.B. Stone Jr. Screenwriter
William J. Tuttle Makeup
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2013

    One of the best Westerns ever made. Peckinpah's ode to the end o

    One of the best Westerns ever made. Peckinpah's ode to the end of the cowboy. It is done with style and the casting of McCrea and Scott is perfect.This film ranks right up there with Monte Walsh (the original with Lee Marvin).
    A must for the classic film collector.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews