The Long Riders is one of the better revisionist Westerns
to come out of the seventies (even though the movie was
actually released in 1980). It tells the story of the James-Younger
gang, which, as most people familiar with the Jesse James
story know, was a collection of Southern Civil War veterans
who wrecked havoc in Missouri after the war. ***
The movie is known for itís stunt castingóthe four
sets of brothers in the gang are played by real life brothers.
The Jamesí are played by James and Stacy Keath, the Youngers
by David, Keith, and Robert Carradine, the Fordís by Nicholas
and Chistopher Guest, and the Millers by Randy and Dennis
Itís a clever idea, although not totally necessary,
because nonrelatives play brothers all the time. It works
in this case, though some of the casting choices are odd.
James Keach plays Jesse James instead of his more famous
brother Stacy, and Nicholas Guest plays Robert Ford, leaving
Christopher (of Spinal Tap fame) to play the less important
brother Charley. ***
Thatís nine brothers, if youíre counting, and the movie
is just over an hour and a half. That doesnít leave nearly
enough time for proper characterization or development.
The gang never gets much of a motivation for their crimes,
other than as a ďhabitĒ picked up during the war. ***
Aside from the cramped narrative, the movie works pretty
well. The action scenes are pretty obviously Peckinpah inspired
but they work. The movie is really violent, in the tradition
of the Wild Bunch and similar movies. The violence looks
real, and in Blu-Ray youíll get to see every drop of blood,
if that's your thing. ***
Even if it isnít, the movie is still worth watching.
All four sets of brothers are pretty good in their roles,
and if they arenít the best actors of their generation they
are all likable and convincing in their roles. The story
could easily have been expanded another hour or so, but
what there is is competently presented, and historically
accurate if youíre into that. Overall, the movie looks good.
The faces, wardrobes, and hairstyles look like they are
taken straight from post-war Missouri, which makes the whole
movie feel convincing. The realistic looking violence makes
the movie feel gritty and real, a real departure from the
sanitized Westerns of the past. ***
Image and Sound:
The movie looks good on Blu-Ray, though not amazing.
While there is some speckling, the color looks vivid. The
disk has English and French audio, and English, Spanish,
and French subtitles.