Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Long Riders (Walter Hill)

How appropriate that fresh off a viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds I sat down to watch Walter Hill’s The Long Riders. Two totally different movies made by two totally different filmmakers actually have one thing in common: they take their liberties with history. However, Tarantino does it in a way that fleshes out fictional characters while providing factual situations as a backdrop – filling in the peripheries of his altered take on WWII with historical figures. Hill just says “damn the torpedoes” and chucks the whole James-Younger gang mythology into the trash. Tarantino’s film compounds on history – using it as a spring board (and tweaking it along the way) for a more interesting film; Hill’s film demystifies the legend of the James-Younger gang by simply making a film of nothing by bullet points, rushing along through every scene until the viewer is left wondering “that’s it?” when the credits role. The only interesting thing about The Long Riders is how badly it fails.


  1. Well, Kevin, we agree on this on e100%. This is a tedious and convoluted misfire, with brutal action scenes (you rightly make a comparison here with INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS) that apparently attempts to emulate THE WILD BUNCH. You also connect th etwo films in their historical revisionism, but honestly that's the least of this film's problems. I didn't find any major issues with the performances or with Ry Cooder's lovely country score, but the intended homages to Ford, Hawks and Ray are unconvincing. TIME OUT says that this is a "beautiful, laconic and unsentimental" film, but to b ehonest I find none of these qualities, save for the last which really is no kind of artistic attribute in the face of narrative incohesiveness. I applaud your broaching of the great ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES, which is a bonafide masterpieces on this character.

    Very perceptive and uncompromising piece here Kevin!

  2. I've responded over at the Western blog, Sam. Thanks for your comment. We're in agreement here.