Ride in the Whirlwind
Filmed simultaneously in the Utah desert with Monte Hellman's other revisionist cult classic Western The Shooting (1966), Ride in the Whirlwind is notable for its dusty authenticity, its straightforward and compelling plot and characters, and for the fact that Jack Nicholson co-produced, wrote, and starred in the film. VCI's disc of this film is great, as it resurrects and restores the picture to its proper glory. For years the print for this film on VHS looked washed-out, grainy, and in need of a major clean-up. It's finally received one. The colors are a lot more vibrant and the picture has been properly letterboxed at 1.85:1. The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is a bit shrill at times, but definitely an improvement over previous incarnations. The DVD also includes an audio commentary with director Hellman and actress Millie Perkins, who plays a naïve farm girl. Moderated by Dennis Bartok (programmer from the American Cinematheque), the track focuses mostly on the filming and preparation surrounding this film. Hellman purposely steers clear of giving any detailed background info on the making of his two cult classics, since his commentary track for The Shooting (also released by VCI) covers that ground. There are occasional pauses in the commentary, but for the most part the track is informative and entertaining. The DVD also includes a photo gallery, cast and crew bios, and trailers for both Hellman Westerns and for his later film Cockfighter.