What's new

RED RYDER and a game of SIMON says (1 Viewer)

Louis Letizia

Supporting Actor
Oct 10, 2000
I just yesterday came across a copy of the 1979 psychological thriller WHEN YOU COMIN' BACK RED RYDER? -a film i've read much about and whose poster I thought was terrific-but have never seen. To my surprise the copy I had purchased nearly 5 years ago was not only uncut but in a pretty good letterbox print. But the greatest surprise was how unexpectedly riveting this movie was.

I had only remembered this being released by Columbia Pictures in February 1979, in one theater-trumpeted in the Sunday NY Times with a gorgeous full page ad. By the time I went to see it-appx a week or two later-it had vanished from theaters. I was an avid Variety reader and remember this movie never going wide-I guess that February Columbia had its share of Brimstone (HARDCORE) and Treacle (ICE CASTLES) and RYDER had no place.
WHEN YOU COMIN' BACK RED RYDER? literally starts with a bang (or is that I wanna bang) with a completely naked Candy Clark (full frontal) bathing in a river. Having been one of thforme few fans of 1978's remake of THE BIG SLEEP-Ithought I had seen all of Clark I could have seen-but RYDER gave us even more eye Candy to go gaga over. Besides her nudity-this is perhaps Candy Clarksmost naked performance. It is a complex performance of pure power-she rivets us to her character and her situation. We are compelled by her seemingly dire situation. It's a brilliant, unsung pefrmance. With AMERICAN GRAFITTI, CITIZEN'S BAND, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH and this, has there ever been an actress that gave such a diverse quartet of performances?
Just as riveting is the man behind the movie. Marjoe Gortner is seemingly giving us an extended performamnce from his tortured Vet in EARTHQUAKE. But, where that role was campy, his RYDER role as another tortured Vet commands the screen. Gortner is unfrightened to tap into a vein that explores the darkside of not only himself but of America at the time. I cannot praise this pefrmance more than to say Gortner makes the viewer seem so uneasy throughout-its sustained hatred -and yet he also manages to let us see where he is coming from. An awesome triumph.
The rest of the small cast ae all exceptional. Hal Linden stands out as a husband trying to regain the spark in his marriage. You've never seen Linden in quite this way-its a brave performance of cowardice and awkwardness. Linden shows in one vignette the true meaning of a midlife crisis-he captures every mans feelings of inadequacy beautifully. He is as fearless as Gortner in many ways-unafraid to show his emotions or to casually flash a bit of nudity. You almost hate Linden's character as much as Gortners for his inability to stand up for himself r his wife.
As the wife Lee Grant is the only disappointment here. Not because she isnt good-only because she is simply Lee Grant. Its a performance she can o in her sleep-right dsown to the hairstyle. When she won the Oscar for SHAMPOO-it was in actuality for all her cumulative performances and her body of work. Speakling of body-she, along with Clark, Linden and Gortner-is unafraid to show herself naked.
As unsurprising as Grant is, Audra Lindley gives a heartbreaking performance so far removed from her Roper character from tv.
Stephanie Faracy in her film debut is the heart of this heartless movie. She hits all the right chords as the town waitress who knows she'll never leave town. The scene where Gortner berates her is extremely painful t watch because of the sympathy Faracy has given us for her character.
If Faracy is the heart than Peter Firth is the soul as the title character. Its a disturbing performance that quietly blows you away. Firth embodies this 60s tortured soul without any trace of his British accent. Its a multilayered gem of performance.
WHEN YOU COMIN BACK RED RYDER? is truly deserving of speciaL treatment dvd. It has som nice photography and Grtner would probably do some killer commentary. I urge movie lovers to seek this out.
Which brings me to who owns this? Melvin Simon produced this and Columbia released it./ The logo in the beginning was Columbia's. On DVD so far from Simon are its only hits-the PORKYs trilogy-which Fx has seemed to retain th rights. MGM released LOVE AT FIRST BITE to DVD thru iots distribution through A.I.P. and ZORO THE GAY BLADE and MAN WITH BOGARTS FACE-both Fox theatrical rlease found their way via Image and in ZORRO later Ancho Bay and MY BODYGUARD is on Fox and Columbia has released WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, leaving only a handfull of unreleased Melvin Simon pix-UFOria, CHU CHU AND THE PHILLY FLASH, SCAVENGER HUNT, ACTOR, THE RUNNER STUMBLES, CLOUD DNCER, SOMEBODY KILLED HER HUSBAND and RED RYDER?-all of which the last 2 have been released to vhs. Anyone know where the rest of the Simon films reside? WHEN YOU COMIN BACK RED RYDER? deservedly needs a release (I wouldnt mind seeing SOMEBODY KILLE HER HUSBAN either).

Mark Edward Heuck

Jul 25, 2000
It's safe to surmise that with little exception, the Melvin Simon-produced films that went out through major studios are still owned by those studios for DVD release. Thus, CHU CHU and SCAVENGER HUNT are at Fox, SOMEBODY KILLED HER HUSBAND and RED RYDER are at Columbia, UFORIA at Universal.

The exceptions are the Simon productions made independently of studios. Fox did release THE STUNT MAN and THE RUNNER STUMBLES to theatres and on VHS, but STUNT MAN reverted back to Simon and went to Anchor Bay for DVD, and RUNNER STUMBLES has not materialized. CLOUD DANCER sits in a similar limbo.


Second Unit
Feb 10, 2006
I've never seen RED RYDER, but I do remember seeing Gortner's appearance on the Merv Griffin show back in the day promoting this film. Oddly enough, the film bypassed HBO and had its TV premiere on commercial TV, if I remember correctly.

Users who are viewing this thread

Sign up for our newsletter

and receive essential news, curated deals, and much more

You will only receive emails from us. We will never sell or distribute your email address to third party companies at any time.

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Latest member
Recent bookmarks