Sunday 26 February 2012

Ride the High Country [1962]

Sam Peckinpah was forever interested in the interplay and the dynamics between the Wild West of the ‘good old days’ and the impending arrival of civilization. Ride the High Country, his second feature direction and the one that brought him worldwide fame, kick-started this tryst with his pet theme, as also his obsession with characters residing at the edge of the society and meditations on violence and death. Steve Judd (Joel McCrea), a former outlaw and an ageing lawman takes, the perilous job of transporting gold from a mining town in Sierra Nevada to a bank; he gets Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott), an old pal of his and his former deputy when he was a Sheriff, to join him in this job. Steve is a man of integrity who is committed to make an honest living even if that means accepting poverty and humiliation, but Gil, who too is somehow eking out a survival of sorts, has other plans in mind as he still longs for the thrills and gunfights of the olden days. Meanwhile two more characters – a young brash guy that Gil has brought along, and the lovely but naïve daughter of a highly religious man – complicate the journey even further for Steve. Though the astounding vitality and debilitating violence present in his later movies (and most notably in his magnum opus The Wild Bunch) is not palpable here – this was more on the serene and quieter side, it still managed to be quite involving thanks to its wonderful photography, its string of amoral character, and the wonderfully composed climax that harks upon the fast receding Wild West days of the old while showing the two ageing protagonists’ intense desire to travel back in time while settling scores.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Genre: Western/Revisionist Western/Action
Language: English
Country: US


David said...

Sam Peckinpah is the director who really knows Westerns,the relationship between 2 cowboys can be enemy-friend mixed,that is quite real to me.

Shubhajit said...

Indeed David, Peckinpah was one of the masters of that genre.