Archive for November 8th, 2013

by Brandie Ashe

“Get out of the way, old man! Can’t you hear? Can’t you see you’re in the way?”

Steve Judd (Joel McCrea), a lawman past his prime, rides into a bustling town and is immediately chastised by a much-younger policeman, who urges him to clear the street. Judd is indeed “in the way” of progress; he is a man out of place in more than one sense—a person of honor in a not-so-wild West that has largely been tamed and civilized. There’s no place here for a solitary gunslinger, and little room for the ways of the old West. But some vestiges of the old era remain, namely in the aging cowboys who cling to long-past reputations.

Indeed, Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country (1962) functions largely as a treatise on age, particularly the idea of growing old in the face of overwhelming change.  In a world that seemingly has no use for him, Judd uses his past as a marshal to secure work guarding a shipment of gold for a small bank, despite the reservations of the bank manager. “I expected a much younger man,” he protests, looking askance at Judd’s frayed sleeves and shabby clothing. Judd, unbowed, responds with simple yet gruff dignity: “Well, I used to be. We all used to be.” He insists on reading his contract in private, not because he needs the silence to concentrate, but because he does not want to pull out his spectacles in front of the manager. (more…)

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