In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sam Peckinpah, who received no credit for his script work on it, told both MGM and the Academy, "If this film is nominated for Best Screenplay without my name on it as writer, I will sue every one of you!" The movie received no nominations. See more »
There are a number of indications that this film is set no later than the late 1890s or early 1900s - for example, the date of Elsa's mother death on her tombstone and the open automobile (characteristic of early twentieth century models). The heavily-worn dime that Judd (Joel McCrea) bets in the booth run by Westrum (Randolph Scott) in the opening scenes, however, is a "Mercury" (Winged Liberty) dime, first coined in 1916. The dime shown, moreover, could not have become so worn without several more years in circulation. See more »
Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea will probably be remembered as the top "B" western stars in movies. But their last film "Ride the High Country" stands as an "A" western and a very good one too.
Perhaps they owe this final chance to director Sam Peckinpah who turns the story into a splendid film in its genre shot in beautiful outdoor sceneries, with very well managed action scenes, a credible script, great settings and a fine musical score too.
Two moments are particularly outstanding in my opinion: the sort of "Fellinesc" sequence at the wedding with all those bizarre characters and the final showdown where Scott and McCrea face the mean Hammond brothers (John Anderson, James Drury and Warren Oates) in the "old fashioned way".
A well deserved "A" product for both actors -that amused and thrilled us western fans- through their long careers in the genre.
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