Ride the High Country (1962) Poster


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Final film of Randolph Scott. He retired from acting once he saw the finished film, saying he wanted to quit while he was ahead and that he would never be able to better his work here.
Contains the quintessential scene of a cowboy riding hell-bent-for-leather toward the camera, firing his Colt revolver as he comes. Each shot he fires creates a large cloud of gunsmoke because of the historically correct black powder in the cartridges, and one such cloud completely obscures him until, a second later, he rides right through it and into view again.
Joel McCrea was originally cast as Westrum and Randolph Scott was Judd. But early in the production each actor went to the producer on his own, dissatisfied and ready to quit, so the roles were reversed.
In the late 1980s Charlton Heston considered starring in a remake with Clint Eastwood. Heston accepted the title role in Major Dundee (1965) after seeing this film.
Joel McCrea also retired after making this movie, but later agreed to appear in a few more films. He finally retired from acting at the age of 69 after making Mustang Country (1976).
Mariette Hartley's first film.
The canvas used to make the tents in the mining camp came from leftover sails from MGM's Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). In addition, an outer set used for How the West Was Won (1962) was also utilized.
The film had originally been intended for Gary Cooper and John Wayne, but Cooper died before filming began.
According to David Weddle's book on Peckinpah, "If They Move, Kill 'Em!', four days into shooting, a snowstorm on the original Inyo National Forest location forced the entire cast and crew back to Los Angeles to resume shooting the film in the Santa Monica Mountains, which resulted in the soapsuds substitution for real Sierra Nevada snow in the scenes at the Coarsegold mining camp. The substitution not surprisingly irritated Peckinpah immensely, but he pressed on. Despite these problems, the film finished a mere four days over schedule, and only $52,000 over budget.
This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1992.
This film was shot in 26 days.
Randolph Scott tried to interest Budd Boetticher in doing the film, but the director was in Mexico tied up with his documentary "Arruza."
Veteran actor Byron Foulger (born 1899) plays the son of Percy Hrlton (born 1894), making him only five years older than Foulger.
The film "should" be set post 1906 as that is the year the Remington model 8 Henry Hammond is toting was released.
Average Shot Length = ~5.9 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~5.3 seconds.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

In the original script, Randolph Scott's character doesn't survive the climatic shoot-out but Joel McCrea's does. During Sam Peckinpah's rewrite, he felt it more poignant that the Gil Westrum character (played by Scott) is redeemed by promising the dying Judd that he will deliver the gold, so the characters' outcome were reversed.

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