Ride the High Country (1962) - Rotten Tomatoes

Ride the High Country (1962)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

This Sam Peckinpah-directed feature outing was intended as the cinematic swan song for both Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea; while McCrea would unexpectedly emerge from retirement, this 1961 western serves as an excellent valedictory for both men. The time is the early 1900s, when the Old West was slowly and stubbornly giving way to the new. McCrea plays Steve Judd, an ex-lawman living on the fringes of poverty but maintaining his dignity and honesty. Hired to escort a gold shipment from the wide-open mining town of Coarse Gold, he engages his old pal Gil Westrum (Scott) to help him. But Gil hasn't Steve's integrity, and he and his young saddle pal Heck Longtree (Ronald Starr) hope to talk Steve into helping them steal the gold. En route to Coarse Gold, the three riders spend the night at the farm of a religious fanatic (R.G. Armstrong), whose daughter Elsa (Mariette Hartley in her film debut), chafing at her father's loud piety, is planning to elope with her boyfriend Billy (James Drury). The next day, Elsa insists on joining up with the group so she can marry Billy at Coarse Gold, leading to numerous complications and, of course, a final shoot-out that allows Steve and Gil to reconcile their differences and pave the way for the film's elegiac finale. Released at the tail end of the western genre, and virtually thrown away by MGM, Ride the High Country feels like an elegy for the western itself -- and Peckinpah himself would go on to revise western conventions with such later efforts as The Wild Bunch (1969) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973).more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Western, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: N.B. Stone, Jr.
On DVD: Jan 10, 2006
MGM Home Entertainment


Randolph Scott
as Gil Westrum
Joel McCrea
as Steve Judd
John Anderson
as Elder Hammond
L.Q. Jones
as Sylvus Hammond
John Davis Chandler
as Jimmy Hammond
Byron Foulger
as Abner Sampson
Carmen Phillips
as Saloon Girl
Ronald Starr
as Heck Longtree
Percy Helton
as Luther Sampson (uncr...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Ride the High Country

Critic Reviews for Ride the High Country

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (4)

Symbols of a waning era who eventually clash over right and wrong, Messrs. McCrea and Scott mesh perfectly, with the latter getting the drollest lines -- and there are plenty.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Using everything that came before and predicting everything that came after, Ride the High Country can now be seen as the lynchpin in the history of the entire Western genre.

Full Review… | September 10, 2010
Combustible Celluloid

...great entertainment: humorous, adventurous, inventive, and enthralling.

Full Review… | April 23, 2010
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for Ride the High Country

Peckinpah's debut is one kickass western. Highlights include a stunning death scene and a truly moving "The End" final shot. Features some beautiful crane cinematography and some neat editing. Slightly marred by an occasionally intrusive score. Great memorable performances all around.

Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer


Beautifully shot western with performances by Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott that distill their personas perfectly.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

This early effort by "Bloody Sam" is one of many elegiac westerns the lauded director helmed. Hmm, now that I think about it, pretty much every western he did was an elegy...interesting.

The setting is the early 1900s: the twilight for the Old West. Joel McCrea is an ex-lawman living on the fringes of society. When he gets hired to escort a shipment of gold, he decides to enlist the help of his old pal played by Randolph Scott. Unlike McCrea's character, Scott's doesn't have much remaining integrity, and thus is easily tempted, along with his young saddle mate to convince McCrea's Steve Judd to steal the gold for themselves instead of delivering it as expected.

This film come out during a transition period for the western genre. It was after the heyday of the classic era, but a few years before the revisionist epics that started in the late 60s, perhaps best exemplified by Peckinpah's own bloody masterpiece The Wild Bunch. As a result, this film is a bit of a mix between the old period, what with being a send off of sorts, as well as a forerunner for what would soon come, though the violence here, while fairly strong for the time, isn't quite to the level that it would be in the aforementioned The Wild Bunch.

The leads are pretty good, and they have a nice rapport with one another. Their costars likewise do pretty decently with the material. The film is rough around the edges, and you can tell it's before Peckinpah hit his stride, but it's still got some great location shooting and decent cinematography.

Give this one a watch. It's pretty solid.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Ride the High Country Quotes

– Submitted by Rodney M (4 years ago)

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