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Ride The High Country Blu-ray Review

Ride The High Country

“Ride The High Country” is arguably Sam Peckinpah’s best film.

The Plot: After being hired by the bank to transport gold, Steven recruits the help of an old friend (Gil) and the young and sometimes reckless Heck. What Steven doesn’t know is that Gil and Heck are plotting to steal the gold for themselves but they want to try to get Steven in on the plan too. You think you know where the story is headed at this point, but the plot takes a literal detour. While on their journey, Gil, Steven, and Heck stop off at a religious single father’s place for the night. It is there that they meet a frustrated young woman (Elsa) who wants to get out on her own. Eventually, Elsa decides to runaway and meet up with a man she has feelings for named Billy Hammond much to the displeasure of Heck who had begun to develop feelings for her. To make a long story short, let’s just say both the gold transportation and Elsa’s marriage to one of the demented Hammond brothers become complicated to say the least.

On the surface, “Ride The High Country” seems like a simple story, but underneath screenwriter’s N.B. Stone Jr’s plot, there’s a lot going on in this movie thematically. It’s a story about a disappearing era (frontier life), age, greed, sins, the harsh realities of the world, honor, law, freedom, redemption, and friendship. It’s a character study above all else and it uses its layered characters to delve into some heady subject matters.

Much like director Sam Peckinpah’s other work such as “The Wild Bunch,” ‘Ride’ also has a bit of an edge to it. It feels like a traditional western at the start, but once the Hammond Brothers come into picture, it almost becomes another movie. The sequence where Elsa is about to get married, for instance, feels like a literal horror show as we see everything from her perspective. Not only does she realize what a mistake she has made, but we also see just how screwed up the Hammond Brothers are. One might think that the mix of traditional and a more modern western would be odd, but it works here because the movie IS about the end of one era and the beginning of another.

It should come as no surprise that the cast here is fantastic all around. Veteran stars Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea are the heart of the picture and their have a really strong chemistry together. Mariette Hartley gives a poignant performance as Elsa, Ron Starr (who strangely doesn’t have many credits) shines as the naïve young buck Heck who ultimately learns a lot throughout his journey. Everyone in the messed up Hammond gang (which includes Warren Oates) makes an impression as well.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? The film, which was originally presented in Cinemascope and Metrocolor, has some grain but the colors look crisp in hi-def.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The track isn’t likely to wow anyone as it comes off as sort of flat, but it’s passable.

Extras: “Ride The High Country” trailer, a featurette about Sam Peckinpah’s life and family as told by his daughter Fern titled “A Justified Life: Sam Peckinpah And The High Country,” and a commentary track by Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle who provide a wealth of details about Peckinpah and his work.

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January 10, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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