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RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (GUNS IN THE AFTERNOON)

Director: SAM PECKINPAH

U.S.A. • 1962 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • 35MM • 93 MIN


By turns serene and surreal, this is a fin-de-siecle Western about two old-timers, beautifully played by Joel McCrae and Randolph Scott, who team up to transport a gold shipment from a mining camp. Complications ensue when they are joined on their journey by a young woman (Mariette Hartley) in flight from a tyrannical father to marry her fiance; and things turn decidedly sinister when they encounter the Hammond brothers, an unhinged brood with unhealthy designs on the new wife.
Opening on a Western street that contains automobiles, uniformed policemen, a Chinese restaurant and a camel outpacing a horse, the film’s initial subversion of genre modulates majestically into an archetypal final showdown that will permit McCrae’s dignified ex-marshal to ‘enter his house justified’. For Peckinpah, a film about loneliness and salvation and a Western that brilliantly combines the traditional and the new, Ride the High Country won the top prize at the Belgian International Film Festival in a competition that included Federico Fellini’s 8½.

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