Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ride the High Country

Always feel better when I head out west.

These days, that usually just happens via celluloid, which is just fine with me. There are few things better than a good ol' western.

Tonight on Turner Classics is a true classic, "Ride the High Country," an elegiac salute to the end of the genre. Randolph Scott, the man's man among B movie actors, is here in his last film, teamed up with another aging B cowboy star, Joel McCrea. McCrea is an ex-lawman, Scott his old deputy.

Together they set out on one last adventure, to bring gold back from a mining camp. But nothing is quite what it seems in this, the best of Sam Peckinpah's westerns. It's all about endings, double-cross, growing older, the passing of time. It's fun, too.

Don't know why they don't make many of these pictures anymore. They're laid-back in style, that may be why. They also aren't politically correct. That's probably why.

"High Country" is a much deserved "A" list effort for the two cowboys who toiled for years in the minor leagues. And if it never rises to the level that Scott's best picture does ("Seven Men From Now," with Budd Boetticher), it's still a fitting epitaph for two riders of the silver screen.

"Ride the High Country" is available on DVD.

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