Ride the High Country (1962)

Ride the High Country
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Written by N.B. Stone Jr.
1962/USA
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
First viewing/Netflix rental

Steve Judd: All I want is to enter my house justified.

Two classic actors go mano-a-mano amid some stunning autumn scenery in this enjoyable Western.

Steve Judd (Joel McCrea) is an aging ex-gunslinger and marshal who is now taking any job he can get.  His current assignment is to guard a shipment of gold coming out of a mine in the high country.  He knows he cannot do this alone and enlists the help of his old friend Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott) and Westrum’s protege, Heck Longtree.  We know from the beginning that Westrum’s plan is to divert the gold to the three “guards” or simply share it with Heck if Steve will not cooperate.

On their way to the mine, the men meet young Elsa Knudsen (Mariette Hartley) who is chafing under the fundamentalist rule of her father.  Although Heck immediately takes a hankering to Elsa she considers herself engaged to one of the miners.  She runs away from home to join the three men thereafter.

Elsa’s miner has some unpleasant surprises up his sleeve and she winds up in need of protection.  In addition, Steve is not a cooperative sort of guy.  The rest of the story follows the trip home with the gold and Elsa in tow.

I am always leery when starting a Peckinpah film but I liked this one a lot.  I had a tear in my eye at the end.  My readers who have seen this will know why.  Recommended to fans of Westerns or the actors.

This was Randolph Scott’s final film.  McCrea also retired at the time but was lured back for a few more films later.  It was Mariette Hartley’s big screen debut.