For Reel

Ride the High Country (1962)
March 29, 2015, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Sam Peckinpah
5 Stars
Ride the High CountryDirector Sam Peckinpah’s second feature (and the one that established him as one of the foremost directors of his era), Ride the High Country is an elegy to the old West and a suitable transition into the new frontier that directors like Peckinpah would establish in the coming decades. Who better to star in a tribute to the history of the genre than the pair of Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea–the former in his final film role? McCrea plays the last cowboy, a man with an unshakable sense of morale conviction in a world that is increasingly disinterested with notions of honor and traditional masculine heroics. Together with Scott (and accompanied by a young sidekick ably played by Ron Starr), the two embark on one final journey, which begins as a mission to usher a gold shipment into a mining town and becomes more about protecting an innocent farmer’s daughter (Marietta Hartley) from violent, sex-crazed rednecks. The final shot, which sees a dying McCrea fall out of frame and becoming one with the landscape, is as memorable as any in the genre–it’s elegiac without being overbearing, its sentimentality is completely earned.

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