A few words about…™ Ride the High Country — in Blu-ray

Recommended 4.5 Stars

Ride the High Country, is in many ways an old-fashioned “buddy” picture, with Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea in the leads. They’d both been at it awhile by the time the film was shot in 1961 — Mr. Scott was 63, and Mr. McCrea, a bit younger, at 56. Both began their careers in film in the 1920s.

It was to be Mr. Scott’s final performance.

So when you watch this one, you’re seeing a couple of consummate veteran actors going through their paces.

I’ve always loved this film, but it’s an odd one, in some ways, as the more serious attributes of the western. are continuously mixed with comedy.

What’s not odd is the cinematography by Lucien Ballard (Rio Grande, The Killing, Buchanan Rides Alone, Will Penny, True Grit, The Wild Bunch), which is majestically reproduced in this Warner Archive released. Grain structure, black levels, and resolution come to fore here, making this a prime experience toward seeing the film.

I’d love to report that it’s a perfect Blu-ray, but because of one small mastering error, I can’t. For some reason, even though this is a brand new image harvest, someone decided to retain the window-boxed main title sequence, used on prior releases.

Did I mention that this was directed by Sam Peckinpah? Beyond the appearance of the two leads, it’s his work here, that lifts it above what might be considered standard fare.

Image – 4.8

Audio – 5

4k Up-rez – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

administrator

23 Comments

  1. WA's Facebook post called this a "NEW 2017 1080p HD REMASTER" – granted, that could be argued to mean almost anything, but is it possible that this is an existing transfer that has been newly remastered, rather than being a brand new scan? That could explain the windowboxing.

  2. Josh Steinberg

    WA's Facebook post called this a "NEW 2017 1080p HD REMASTER" – granted, that could be argued to mean almost anything, but is it possible that this is an existing transfer that has been newly remastered, rather than being a brand new scan? That could explain the windowboxing.

    I hope that's the case!

  3. Josh Steinberg

    WA's Facebook post called this a "NEW 2017 1080p HD REMASTER" – granted, that could be argued to mean almost anything, but is it possible that this is an existing transfer that has been newly remastered, rather than being a brand new scan? That could explain the windowboxing.

    It's a brand new scan. It's obvious from the quality.

  4. Getting into minutiae, one thing has always disturbed me about this film.

    I've tried to attach a guesstimate of a historical year, and keep coming up very pre-WWI, possibly more 1910.

    And then every time I see it, there's that blasted Mercury dime that's set down, which would logically, especially based upon the wear on said dime, place it in the 1920s.

  5. haineshisway

    Happy to have the report, but like others cannot imagine why the credits are window boxed – certainly not a deal breaker, but odd.

    I'd bet that someone looked at the last transfer and duplicated.

    We had same situation with a typo within an ID title from Triumph. Someone compared the new with the old, found a missing title..

    Not to sound like Ethel Merman, but "these things happen…"

  6. Robert Harris

    I'd bet that someone looked at the last transfer and duplicated.

    We had same situation with a typo within an ID title from Triumph. Someone compared the new with the old, found a missing title..

    Not to sound like Ethel Merman, but "these things happen…"

    I remember the verbal abuse you took from a couple of presumptive sophisticates for that.

  7. Looking forward to this one. I just bought Seven Men From Now on DVD and greatly enjoyed it. I also bought the "Randolph Scott Roundup" on DVD. I assume that these are all of the so called Ranown Cycle films. So far I'm loving them.

    I'm sure this film will be just as great. Thanks for the review and recommendation Mr. Harris.

  8. Just finished watching – my favorite Peckinpah film and looking so nice – finally to have this in actual color (just look at the clips in Nick Redman's featurette and you'll see how awful the previous transfer was and what I mean by brown color). Scott and McCrea are so moving in this – and funny – and brilliant. We simply don't have actors like this anymore, and that is NOT meant as a compliment to today's actors, not a one of whom could do either of these roles. These men are not only consummate film ACTORS, they also carry a lot of history – I've always loved Scott, but for me McCrea was one of the all-time greats, and he worked with so many brilliant directors and was always stellar – and unique – no one else like him. That's right – actors who were unique – doesn't happen today.

  9. skylark68

    Looking forward to this one. I just bought Seven Men From Now on DVD and greatly enjoyed it. I also bought the "Randolph Scott Roundup" on DVD. I assume that these are all of the so called Ranown Cycle films. So far I'm loving them.

    I'm sure this film will be just as great. Thanks for the review and recommendation Mr. Harris.

    6 out of 7 movies that Randolph Scott did with director Budd Boetticher comprised the so called Ranown Cycle.

    The 7th movie was Westbound that can also be purchased from Warner Archive, but only as a DVD.

    The 5 others that you haven't bought yet are available as a DVD box set from Sony / Columbia and if you prefer HD you can also get three of them as HD streaming versions from what I remember and one you can get as a Blu-ray from Germany (avoid the French release from Sidonis).

  10. haineshisway

    Just finished watching – my favorite Peckinpah film and looking so nice – finally to have this in actual color (just look at the clips in Nick Redman's featurette and you'll see how awful the previous transfer was and what I mean by brown color). Scott and McCrea are so moving in this – and funny – and brilliant. We simply don't have actors like this anymore, and that is NOT meant as a compliment to today's actors, not a one of whom could do either of these roles. These men are not only consummate film ACTORS, they also carry a lot of history – I've always loved Scott, but for me McCrea was one of the all-time greats, and he worked with so many brilliant directors and was always stellar – and unique – no one else like him. That's right – actors who were unique – doesn't happen today.

    100% correct…………..

  11. Robert Harris

    Getting into minutiae, one thing has always disturbed me about this film.

    I've tried to attach a guesstimate of a historical year, and keep coming up very pre-WWI, possibly more 1910.

    And then every time I see it, there's that blasted Mercury dime that's set down, which would logically, especially based upon the wear on said dime, place it in the 1920s.

    It's hard to see how it could have been later than 1910, given that Elsa's mother, Hester Knudsen, died in 1885. Mariette Hartley was 21 years old during filming and she couldn't pass for much older. The headstone shows that Hester died at the age of 40 – perhaps she died in childbirth. Elsa doesn't say anything about remembering her or missing her.

    I haven't listened to the commentary track yet, but I'll see if the film historians mention the dime and what year it is supposed to be.

  12. haineshisway

    Just finished watching – my favorite Peckinpah film and looking so nice – finally to have this in actual color (just look at the clips in Nick Redman's featurette and you'll see how awful the previous transfer was and what I mean by brown color). Scott and McCrea are so moving in this – and funny – and brilliant. We simply don't have actors like this anymore, and that is NOT meant as a compliment to today's actors, not a one of whom could do either of these roles. These men are not only consummate film ACTORS, they also carry a lot of history – I've always loved Scott, but for me McCrea was one of the all-time greats, and he worked with so many brilliant directors and was always stellar – and unique – no one else like him. That's right – actors who were unique – doesn't happen today.

    I finally got this on the screen last night…wow, what a beautiful transfer (aside from the windowboxed main titles, though the boxing is slight). I don't have a reference other than a repertory print or two back in the 80s, but this Blu-ray looks fantastic color-wise and every-other-wise. As for the movie, it's simply phenomenal. What Bruce says above is correct regarding the actors – the movie comes alive through the history that's etched in their faces. Scott relishing the thought of absconding with the gold…McCrea reciting that he just wants to "Go into my House justified" – fantastic moments. I got a genuine thrill up my spine when Scott comes riding in at the end to rescue his partner; I was sitting there alone and I still wanted to cheer like I did the first time I saw it. Just great, thanks to the WAC for this one. Don't hesitate…this is one of the great ones, folks.

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