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Ride the High Country (1962)

Approved | | Western | 14 July 1962 (Japan)
An ex-union soldier is hired to transport gold from a mining community through dangerous territory. But what he doesn't realize is that his partner and old friend is plotting to double-cross him.



(as N. B. Stone Jr.)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Elsa Knudsen
Ron Starr ...
Heck Longtree
Joshua Knudsen
Jenie Jackson ...
Sylvus Hammond
Jimmy Hammond


Aging ex-marshal Steve Judd is hired by a bank to transport a gold shipment through dangerous territory. He hires an old partner, Gil Westrum, and his young protege Heck to assist him. Steve doesn't know, however, that Gil and Heck plan to steal the gold, with or without Steve's help. On the trail, the three get involved in a young woman's desire to escape first from her father, then from her fiance and his dangerously psychotic brothers. Written by James Meek <james@oz.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Showdown in the High Sierras!




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

14 July 1962 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Guns in the Afternoon  »

Box Office


$813,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sam Peckinpah liked to tease the naive, inexperienced Mariette Hartley. At one point, having been tipped off that Hartley had worn the wrong socks for a scene in which they would not even be seen, Peckinpah pretended to have a major fit, accusing her of ruining the shot. He also kept telling her that if she didn't perform to his liking, he would give her part to Joan Staley, another aspiring young actress of the time. But Hartley took the ribbing good-naturedly and had nothing but admiration and affection for her director. See more »


(at around 14 mins) In the restaurant fight, the wall moves when one of the fighters bounces off of it. See more »


Steve Judd: [after knocking out Heck with one punch] When I questioned you about that boy, I should've gone a bit deeper into the subject of character. I hope that's a mistake I won't live to regret.
Steve Judd: [wryly] Good fight! I enjoyed it!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introducing Mariette Hartley See more »


Featured in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »


For She's a Jolly Good Fellow
Sung at the wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

Revisonist splendour as Peckinpah starts his thematic obsession.
4 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

"All I want is to Enter My House Justified"

Sam Peckinpah's second feature film is today standing up as a must see and must own for those interested in the Western genre.

The film sees ageing lawman Steve Judd land a job of escorting a gold shipment safely to a bank in Hornitos. After running into old friend, and fellow aged lawman Gil Westrun, he hires both he and his young sparky sidekick Heck Longtree to hopefully see the job through to a successful conclusion. Yet Gil has other ideas, for where Steve is upstanding and adhering to the values he has lived his life by, Gil sees this as one last chance to actually get a big payday. The journey takes a further twist as the three men meet and then save Elsa Knudsen from a brutal marriage, it's an incident that puts them all on a collision course with the Hammond brothers.

What we have here is Sam Peckinpah's first film dealing with men who have outlived their time. We witness some emotionally poignant stuff as the two main protagonists know that they have aged beyond their world, yet as alike as they are, they have different ideals in how to deal with the advent of time. The masterstroke here is the casting of genre legends Joel McRea & Randolph Scott as Steve & Gil respectively. It's evident from the off that both men are identifying with their characters, with both men hitting top emotional form to fully realise the thematic heart of the story. Mariette Hartley makes her film debut as Elsa, and she fits in nicely with the quality on show behind and in front of the camera. Lucien Ballard's cinematography is gorgeous as the various California locations envelope the protagonists in a sort of elegiac way, and Peckinpah directs with his heart as well as his head.

Bookended by two heart-achingly super sequences, of which the finale has rightly passed into Western genre legend, this really is a strong and beautiful film. One that shows a truly great director was at work. For here he was left alone, and the final result is a quality Western beating far more than just a cowboy heart. The supporting cast is strong, notably Edgar Buchanan, L.Q. Jones & John Anderson. While the undervalued George Bassman provides a fittingly tonal music score. If there is a criticism, it's that Peckinpah doesn't let the younger characters breath, but given the film's core focus on aged men in an aged passing era: well it's easily forgiven. A precursor to The Wild Bunch for sure, but while the theme is the same for both film's, this one impacts in a very different way. Highly recommended, not just for the Oater crowd, but for fans of classic cinema too. 9/10

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