Ride the High Country

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(1962) ★★★★★

TCM: Sunday 2 August, 3pm

Former lawman Joel McCrea, down on his luck, accepts a job transporting gold from a remote mining camp to a small town bank. Old colleague Randolph Scott, also in reduced circumstances, teams up with him. Scott has become bitter and cynical in his advanced years and secretly he plans to steal the gold en route. A magnificent western that casts a tender glow on the two weathered stars’ careers in cowboy movies. Scott and McCrea have never been better and this elegy for frontier values is arguably Wild Bunch director Sam Peckinpah’s finest film. It’s certainly his most affectionate. From the opening shot on an autumnal western landscape, there’s a richly evocative atmosphere of times changing and Peckinpah is clearly dismissive of the encroachment of ‘civilisation’ on the frontier. As a honking motor car proceeds past a cheering crowd, a policeman done up in a Keystone Kop uniform urges the horsebacked McCrea to clear the street so as not to impede a circus-style camel race: “Get out of the way, old man.” As the story’s moral parameters are set, Peckinpah continues to treat his ageing protagonists with sympathy and dignity while mocking the baggage which comes with modern times. Similarly, the ageing outlaws of The Wild Bunch (ITV4 at 11.45pm) are likewise governed by loyalty in Peckinpah’s authentically savage lament for outmoded ideals: “You can’t side with a man, you’re no better than an animal!” It’s his masterpiece, bloody but unbowed.

Certificate: PG

Duration: 94min

IMDB – Ride the High Country

TMDB – Ride the High Country

Rotten Tomatoes – Ride the High Country

Other Showings Time & Date
TCM Monday, 3 August at 7:45AM
TCM Monday, 24 August at 3:00PM
TCM Tuesday, 25 August at 11:05AM