Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ride the High Country (1962)

Okay, I had to pick this Joel McCrea movie out of all the netflix movies to watch first?? Because, if there was ever a Joel McCrea movie written just for me that will make me love him for life, this is it.

Here's another film that fits in my newly-understood love of aging, worn heroes with a code faced with a changing world. Only, as opposed to The Wild Bunch, this Peckinpah movie is kinder and gentler and far less bloody and dissolute (though it has its moments). And it deals with my all-time favorite themes of friendship, betrayal, redemption, and honor.

Oh sigh. Where to even begin? At the beginning... I love George Bassman's main title theme. It's beautiful, melancholy, and coincidentally completely encapsulated my mood yesterday. That theme seemed written just for me yesterday. The rest of the score... meh. Obtrusive and annoying, but that main theme is wonderful and suits the movie to a T.

Randolph Scott's back, and I have to admit, from not knowing him as anything other than a name, I've watched a dozen or so of his films over the past year and really come to like him. He and McCrea work wonderfully together here. Both bring such class and dignity, even when one's scheming and fast-talking. It's hard to believe they never actually made any other films together.

What I didn't like... the female character played by Mariette Hartley. Now, I really do like the actress a lot, it's just that her character drives me a bit crazy and her side story interferes with screen time that I'd rather be spending with Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott. Okay, okay, that's also entirely unfair, as hers is not just a random subplot, it ties in with everything and sparks some moral dilemmas, changes of heart, and the climax, but I just personally could have done without it.

And Joel McCrea? Mmmmmm. Dig him dig him dig him. He aged well. His character hides his misgivings and fears behind a solid wall of confidence, and he can back it up, easily whupping a young whippersnapper, as well as standing his ground against superior numbers. McCrea does so many wonderful little things in this movie that help define his character. The defiant/embarrassed look he shoots Randolph Scott when he picks up his dime, the uncomfortable shoulder roll when his prospective employer eyes his frayed cuffs, how far he has to move the paper away to be able to see where to sign. He even made me cry at one point. Yep, I's in luv!

I also get to watch my beloved Sierra Mountains. Those places are so familiar to me, I can smell the air, feel the streams. There's still nowhere on earth I'd rather be then in those mountains. This was Eastern Sierra and was one of the movies on my Inyo County viewing list. And when the young guy tosses his food wrapper into the bushes, Joel McCrea snaps at him, "Pick that up. These mountains don't need your trash." Right on! Couldn't have put it better myself.


  1. Sounds interesting. :)

    I'm glad you like Westerns, too...seems like a lot of female film-bloggers don't really discuss 'em.

    I'm nuts about them!

    Perfect excuse to watch men get sweaty. ;)


    So Joel McCrea, huh? I don't guess I'm familiar with him...

    I actually kinda dislike Randolph Scott. No reason, really: just one of the few actors that irks me.


    I hope you're well, and that your novel's progressing better than mine. :)

  2. Westerns are probably my favorite film genre. I live for Westerns! I think most of the films I write about here are actually Westerns, come to think about it! Westerns, war movies, noir... my three favorite types of old movies.

    I actually kinda dislike Randolph Scott. No reason, really: just one of the few actors that irks me.

    Hee -- are you sure it's not because he stole Gene Tierney from Dana in Belle Starr? I didn't particularly like him at first, but he's grown on me.

    Ah, nano... Well, progress this year is... painful, to say the least. Sigh.

  3. Yup, sounds like I need to get this from the library as soon as Nano endeth. Especially since it sounds like I'll like it more than "The Wild Bunch" :-) Maybe I'll even stop feeling so blaise about Randolph Scott! After all, if "The Professionals" could make me consider Burt Lancaster in a new light after all these years....

  4. Rachel - well, admittedly, the best part of having Randolph Scott in this movie is how he makes Joel McCrea even more wonderful by comparison.

    And yeah, you'll like it waaaay better than The Wild Bunch, guaranteed. JMC's character alone will see to that! You can't help but heart him when you're old-fashioned like us.

  5. "are you sure it's not because he stole Gene Tierney from Dana in Belle Starr?"

    Nope. I haven't seen it yet! -- Ah! and now it's ruined... ;)

    I do own it, though, so I will be watching it soon...I've had to put myself on a Dana diet: watching only one movie of his each week, in order to make them last longer. I know I'm gonna be sad when I run out of new-to-me Dana movies...so it helps to hold off as long as I can on watching the next one.

    As for Scott: it was probably his two Fred and Ginger movies that left a bad taste in my mouth. Though it seems I've watched him in a couple others movies, and also disliked him or his character.

    As for 'Westerns, War, and Noir': those are also three of my favorites...along with musicals, gangsters, and pre-codes.


    I'm sorry to hear your progress with NaNo is painful this year.

    I do hope it gets better. :)

    Mine's coming strangely; too slow, and too unsure. I almost wish I could change the story completely...or just start over. :(

  6. Ah yes, I understand movie diets quite well, though I'm terrible at rationing them out personally. I do own a couple Dana ones I haven't watched yet, but I rather tore through the rest. Did they same thing with Aldo Ray -- watched everything in rapid succession, then went, wait... I didn't leave anything for a rainy day! So, I just have to hope they'll release some of the ones not currently available one of these days!

    Do you know, I completely forgot Randolph Scott was in any Fred Astaire movies until you mentioned that? And even though I loved watching Follow the Fleet growing up, for the life of me I can't remember what part he played! Oh rats, I'll just have to watch it again. :-D