Tuesday, Sep 2020
Director: Walter Hill
Screenwriters: Bill Bryden, Steven Smith, Stacy Keach, James Keach, & Walter Hill
Length: 100mins.
Released: 1980

long riders posterThis film begins with the caption: "Missouri after the Civil War." This is a Western tale occurring in the shadow of the Civil War, almost literally, as almost all the scenes are shot in dark hues. The James-Younger gang makes their living in and around the clannish environs of Southern Missouri (map), a divided state during the war, but one with strong pro-confederate leanings, particularly in its southern regions. An ad for this film featured a quote by Jesse James: "All the world likes an outlaw. For some damn reason, they remember 'em." The film elicits some sympathy for the Jameses-Youngers-Coles as we see them struggling in the aftermath of the war, loyal to their families and their region, while resentful of Union intrusion. We see how -- and why -- they become cult heroes. We also see them partake in an outstanding slow motion Hollywood shootout after they attempt to take the Northfield bank. Earlier, these Southern gentlemen had informed the passengers of the train they were robbing not to worry, that they "we're just taking a permanent loan from the Rock Island Railway."

The movie has a rich, dark atmosphere and some good characters. One is the legendary whore of the Southwest, Belle Starr, played by Pamela Reed. She is an outsider in a society of outsiders an a more interesting female character than most Westerns contain. As the gang hides out in the hills, aided by a vast network of friends and relatives, all resentful of the Federal government, we are reminded of our present day Unabomber's and independent western militias.

The Long Riders is a fine 'later day' Western and one of the latest tellings of the James Gang story (list). The dark cinematography is rich and the Ry Cooder score excellent. This movie is also notable for featuring four sets of historical brothers played by four Hollywood brother sets. The acting is quite good and the overall, dark atmosphere of the film very believable.

For these reasons and others you will discover, we rate this movie a Must See.

--Jed

Cast:

  • David Carradine .... Cole Younger
  • Keith Carradine .... Jim Younger
  • Robert Carradine .... Bob Younger
  • James Keach .... Jesse James
  • Stacy Keach .... Frank James
  • Dennis Quaid .... Ed Miller
  • Randy Quaid .... Clell Miller
  • Kevin Brophy .... John Younger
  • Harry Carey Jr. .... George Arthur
  • Christopher Guest .... Charlie Ford
  • Nicholas Guest .... Bob Ford
  • Shelby Leverington .... Annie Ralston
  • Felice Orlandi .... Mr. Reddick
  • Pamela Reed .... Belle Starr
  • James Remar .... Sam Starr
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