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Ride the High Country

Where to Watch Ride the High Country


Ride the High Country is a 1962 American Western film directed by legendary filmmaker Sam Peckinpah and stars celebrated actors Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott, and Mariette Hartley. With its distinctive blend of sweeping landscapes, complex morality tales, and gritty action sequences, the film has earned its status as a classic in the genre.

The intriguing plot centers around the dynamic duo of Steve Judd (Joel McCrea) and Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott), two former lawmen who now have found their years creeping up on them in the era of advancing civilization. Judd, a retired marshal, gets hired to transport gold from a remote mining town through treacherous territory.

Recognizing the considerable challenges of the job and needing a companion for the journey, Judd ropes in his old friend Westrum, another rusted lawman now earning his life as a showman in a travelling circus, displaying shooting tricks with his youthful assistant Heck Longtree (played by Ron Starr). The three make an engaging team, each carrying their unique personas and moral codes that are all set to be challenged in the course of their journey.

Adding further complexities to their journey is the introduction of Elsa Knudsen (Mariette Hartley), a sheltered young woman who joins the group in pursuit of her own dreams, escaping from an ultra-religious, overbearing father. The addition of Elsa in the plot weaves a multi-layered tapestry of love, honour, betrayal, and redemption that adds depth to the primarily action-oriented narrative.

Coming out from the lens of Sam Peckinpah, the film delves into the fading nature of Old West’s law and order world alongside an exploration of the evolving gender relations of those times. Peckinpah, known for his portrayals of moral ambiguity and complex characters operations, put his unique cinematic touch to the film, transporting viewers to an age and place steeped in wildness and cowboy ethics.

The most striking elements of Ride the High Country are no doubt the performances delivered by its leading actors. Joel McCrea, in his role as Steve Judd, offers a compelling act, capturing the stoicism inherent in his character with the perfect measure of subtlety and depth. Randolph Scott provides an impressive counterpoint with his character, Gil Westrum, skillfully displaying layers of worldly disillusionment. It was Scott’s last film and is considered one of his finest performances.

Mariette Hartley, in her debut film, also shines as Elsa, the lively, headstrong young woman caught in the various power dynamics of the men around her. Hartley's Elsa exudes a raw, wild, spirit that both contrasts and complements the aging men's jaded worldviews.

An important mention must go to the cinematography of this film. Lucien Ballard, the film's cinematographer, creates a lush and cinematic world evoking the stunning grandeur of the Old West, from the breathtaking vista shots to the intimately tense standoffs.

The script, penned by N.B. Stone Jr., offers a rich narrative layered with significant themes of friendship, gallantry, redemption, and deceptions. The dialogues ring with wit and wisdom, sketching an engaging portrayal of the characters, their ethics, and the changing times.

Ride the High Country presents a nuanced depiction of the Old West and its complicated code of ethics that dominates its lead characters. The film emphasizes not only on the violent, masculine world but also hints at the tumultuous transformation on the horizon.

This film stands out as a remarkable Western, exploring the advent of modernity in an era otherwise marked by raw, uncontrolled lawlessness. It compellingly visualizes the shadows of uncertainty of a vanished world, making it a rewarding watch for fans of the genre and for newcomers. It's a cinematic achievement that is both a loving tribute to and a critical evaluation of the Western genre, with performances that have over time become iconic.

In summary, Ride the High Country is a captivating film, an exploration of individuals caught between two eras, grappling with their internal moral compasses amid the changing landscapes. Fueled by fantastic performances, immersive narration, and stunning cinematography, it is a film that withstands the test of time, securing its place as a classic in the annals of cinema.

Ride the High Country is a Western movie released in 1962. It has a runtime of 94 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.4. It also holds a MetaScore of 92.

How to Watch Ride the High Country

Where can I stream Ride the High Country movie online? Ride the High Country is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Ride the High Country for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Sam Peckinpah
Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott, Mariette Hartley, Ron Starr, Edgar Buchanan
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