Ride the High Country, Many of Sam Peckinpah’s westerns involve aging outlaws, cowboys or lawmen living in the late period west trying to deal with the disappearing frontier. In this early Peckinpah movie, the aging lawmen are Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott. Randolph Scott plays the part of Steve Judd. Judd is hired to guard gold that is to be shipped from the nearby mine. He hires his old friend Gill Westrum and a young kid by the name of Heck(Ron Starr) to help him. Gill and Huck have other ideas. They want to steal the gold! Along the way, they meet a young women who Heck takes to right away. Trying to liberate herself from her strict and fundamentalist father, she gets involved with Bill Hammond. He is the leader of the Hammond brothers who work the mine. He is bad company. Gill, Steve and Huck save her from the abuse of Billy Hammond.This film is part of the Sam Pechinpah collection box set that Warner released a few months back.(It can be purchased separately,but I highly recommend the box set.) People that are very familiar with western film in particular and the work of Peckinpah in general, probably already know how good this movie is. If you only know Peckinpah for The Wild Bunch, I highly recommend that you buy this DVD. This is a great film. One thing that sets it apart from many of his other films is the scenery. Most if his westerns are filmed in the southwestern U.S. or Mexico with wide open and barren desert landscapes. This movie was filmed in California’s Sierra Nevadas at Inyo National Forest. Consequently, the scenery is beautiful.
Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea are legendary actors. This film is considered by many to be among their finest. I was very impressed by their performances. Gill turns against Steve when he tries to steal the gold but by films end they join forces along with Heck to do battle against the Hammond boys. This movie features a very early performance from Mariette Hartley. Although much younger, many will recognize her from the Polaroid and Celistial Seasonings Tea commercials. Peckinpah regulars LQ Jones and Warren Oats are also in this as two of the Hammond Brothers. This movie does have some violence but nothing compared to The wild Bunch. I believe this is Peckinpah’s second feature film. It was released in 1962. You can see how his films changed with the times when one compares this with his works from the late sixties and seventies. This is one of my favourite Peckinpah films. Highly recommended!