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The Hi-Lo Country (1998)

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An intimate story of the enduring bond of friendship between two hard-living men, set against a sweeping backdrop: the American West, post-World War II, in its twilight. Pete and Big Boy ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pete Calder
Little Boy Matson
Levi Gomez
Billy Harte (as Darren Burrows)
Delfino Mondragon
Jack Couffer
Sandy Baron ...
Mona Birk
Les Birk
Craig Carter ...
Art Logan
Walter C. Hall ...


An intimate story of the enduring bond of friendship between two hard-living men, set against a sweeping backdrop: the American West, post-World War II, in its twilight. Pete and Big Boy are masters of the prairie, but ultimately face trickier terrain: the human heart. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A woman like Mona can drive men to extremes.


Drama | Romance | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality, a scene of violence, and for brief language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:


| |


Release Date:

22 January 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hi-Lo Country  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$17,712 (USA) (1 January 1999)


$163,810 (USA) (12 March 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Sam Peckinpah tried to get this movie produced for years, but unfortunately he died before he had the chance. See more »


A Coke vending machine is clearly labeled ten cents. In this part of the country in the late 1940s it would have been five cents. Around 1960 vending machines went to six cents, quite a novelty at the time, requiring two coins to get a Coke. It was later in the 1960s when vending machines finally went to ten cents. See more »


Big Boy Matson: One look at her makes my teeth itch.
See more »

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User Reviews

a big-hearted film
2 November 1999 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

People walked out of this film, presumably in disgust, perhaps because they were too hip for woody harrelson. I'm glad this film pissed people off - it proves it was stupidly honest, stupidly nostalgic, stupidly big-hearted and not cynical, clever, PC nor anti-PC, not a mockery of anything. It's an American film by a British director, and like Lolita, boils thick Americanisms down to crystals of statement, taste, elan. How could anyone walk out on the fat man yodelling as the camera dollied in to that tight close-up?! It was a gem of a shot, a little gauche perhaps, not unlike the marlboro country the film rolls through, and the naked desire for the days when men were MEN - with winning hands, whiskey shooters and a tasty redhead named Mona... But this isn't leering masculinity bristling with three day growth! There is a notable absense of guns (for a western), and when they appear they are not sharp and shiny but heavy, tarnished and chunky. This is MC Solaar's nouveau western - cutting up slow shy grins, dusty scuffles, mewling coyotes and a lugubrious soundtrack heavy with sentimental strings, trumpets and the convenient pause for punctuation. This is true Hollywood, and I mean that as a compliment. It was one of those rare occasions where suddenly you see the film as more style than substance. That's why it was showing in Darlinghurst and not the multiplexes! Because of Woody Harrelson

  • so stupidly generous, stupidly the big man with his big scruples and big

square jaw - it is a film that could so easily slip by, scoffed at, discounted for wearing its heart upon its sleeve, pinned not far below the stars and stripes and the silver star for service to country, mateship as tight as knuckles, horses with bottom and all that glory.

It's a movie for Kerouac, he loved this kind of carousing and childishness. Here, life is Hi and the cattle lo, plain Lo, yet another adopted child of Scorsese and his deep deep pockets. "From the depths of my reputation I bring you..." How dare he! Kidnapping the history of American film, like he was god's gift to world cinema, doing it all as a public service. But its worth it for Billy Crudup with his old man's shoulders, Billy with his switchblade, Steve with his necktie, straight six and coronary, LB and Bigboy - it all comes down to Bigboy - the backbone of the film, the gut-feeling and laboured gasp of this weighty piece of cinema.

It's old-school treatment, all sinew and gristle, bloody hooves; pretty dresses, buddy bottles and mexican girls who visit fortune-telling witches. It's a film which doesn't teach America's children to express their anger with words not weapons. No, like Apache tank-killers and cruise missles flattening Serbian houses, it tells Americans to go hard or go home - take it square on the chin, tear those clothes off and take whatever gratification you can get whilst still being the best man, the best friend, a good man with a natural feel for horses. It's homestyle American apple pie, all fragrance and warm pressure, like a horse nibbling oats out of the palm of your hand. So rope em and rape em cause nothing's keeping a good man down cept for a bullet in the chest or a pair of wide open thighs... And while I bluster, it's all poetry in the Hi-lo country, with its bloated cattle and californian dreams, snow on the ranges and the good ol' boys, we're just telling it like it is...

Further notes. The preview contains many scenes that are not in the film : wartime footage, bigboy coming back for pete in the blizzard. In fact the preview contains all the elements superfluous to the film. It is not the story of a woman coming between two friends, it's a story about a way of life coming to an end, a coming of age, and the quality of relationships.

And returning to the generic music score I criticised earlier, from the preview I have identified (some of) it as sounding very similar to the opening to Fargo! What is this piece of music?

2 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why is this not available on DVD? king_of_bad_intentions
'Hi-Lo Country' is available on VHS ctodd1000
Who is the singer at the dance? tripcrwn
gbheron --- Bridget Fonda??? illini_CHL
Alan Jacobs, you're entitled to your opinion... illini_CHL
on first viewing... sylwiusz-z
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