For Reel

Ride in the Whirlwind (1966)
October 26, 2015, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Monte Hellman
4.5 Stars
Ride in the WhirlwindIf The Shooting is a brutal, objectivist western, Ride in the Whirlwind furthers that sensibility with touches of dramatic irony that only serve to underscore the nonpartisan, severe world all the more. In the second half of the film, cowhands Vern and Wes (Cameron Mitchell and Jack Nicholson) are holed up at a farm while desperately trying to evade the unrelenting vigilantes on their trail. With the farmer’s wife and daughter as hostages at their side, they listen for the patriarch’s axe to stop swinging as an “alarm” to let them know when the farmer will expect the women to complete their daily tasks. The metronome-like axe strikes contribute to the sense of foreboding–it points to the inevitability, in the same way that the silence before the gunshots in 1939’s Of Mice and Men only serves to accentuate the doom. Ride in the Whirlwind isn’t quite as affecting as The Shooting, but it is nonetheless a masterpiece in its own right, with its pitiable characters recalling the knight who can only temporarily postpones his death in The Seventh Seal.

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