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When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?

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When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? is a riveting 1979 drama directed by Milton Katselas based on the play by Mark Medoff. It features a splendid cast of Candy Clark, Marjoe Gortner, Stephanie Faracy, and other recognizable faces, that skillfully bring to life the gripping narrative set predominantly in a small-town diner.

Packed with suspense and strongly characterized individuals, the drama begins on an ordinary day at Foster's Diner, a typical eatery in Pueblo, New Mexico. The establishment owned by the amiable Floyd (Lee Grant) serves as a crossroads between the lives of several disparate souls and the impending chaos awaiting them. As the film progresses, the sense of normalcy shatters when Teddy, played by Marjoe Gortner, and his companion Cheryl, portrayed by Candy Clark, walk into this fresh-from-a-normalday scenario. Teddy is a menacing Vietnam veteran who represents a volatile blend of charisma and danger, while Cheryl is an anxious beauty with a mysterious past.

The couple's entrance sets the stage for a growing sense of unease as they begin to interact with the other characters. Stephanie Faracy plays the role of Angel Childress, a sweet-natured waitress battling her mundane existence in hopes of a brighter future away from the monotonous small-town life. Peter Firth stars as Stephen Ryder, a passive British drifter turned antique dealer carrying the burden of his failed dreams, dubiously nicknamed "Red Ryder" after the iconic comic book hero. The calm façade of the diner deteriorates quickly as Teddy, the unpredictable force, starts confronting and challenging every individual, stirring up hidden fears, repressed emotions, and darkest secrets of everyone present.

While primarily set all in one day and within the confines of a small café, this production presents a cluster of fascinating character studies explored under high-voltage circumstances. This character-heavy narrative style allows the story to peel back the layers of the many different individuals present, exposing their vulnerabilities, secrets, and their coping mechanisms when faced with fear and manipulation. The movie acts as something akin to a psychological microscope, as Teddy's grandiose actions force each character to confront their private demons.

The film expertly bridges the gap between regular, mundane life and the sudden realization of suppressed internal turmoil, using just one disruptive catalyst. It highlights the immense power of circumstances, showcasing how it can rapidly unravel tight-knit bonds and strip away the pretenses that individuals often hide behind. On that day in Foster’s Diner, amidst scrambled eggs and coffee refills, lives are irreversibly changed as the element of anticipation and suspense keep the audience glued to the screen.

One of the most intriguing aspects of When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? is how effectively it deconstructs the quiet desperation of its characters, while simultaneously showing their resilience amidst chaos. This is not just due to an engaging and stimulating script but because of the solid performances provided by its ensemble cast. Candy Clark, Marjoe Gortner, and Stephanie Faracy all give compelling performances in their respective roles. Gortner, in particular, stands out for the unique and chilling portrayal of the deranged yet intriguing Teddy.

Despite the lack of extensive settings and vast expanses that are usually associated with thrillers, When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? successfully builds an intense atmosphere within the limited confines of a small town diner, enhancing the voyeuristic experience of the audience, like spectators of a skewed social experiment. It is a testament to the movie's prowess that the confined setup doesn't seem restrictive but rather adds to the escalating tension and stakes of the unfolding narrative.

In conclusion, When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? is not just a movie; it's an intense exploration of human emotions, reactions, and coping mechanisms when laid bare under extreme circumstances. This classic movie is a must-watch for fans of psychological thrillers or those who appreciate deeply drawn character portrayals, complex emotional arcs, and a narrative that holds suspense and dread till the very end.

When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? is a Drama movie released in 1979. It has a runtime of . Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.0..

Also starring Candy Clark
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