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"The Long Riders" - {Blu-ray}
Daniel Ruwe
Studio: MGM
Release Date:
Special Features:

See Below


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 Quaid. ***

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.

Special Features:

Disappointingly, the only special feature on the Blu-Ray release is the original theatrical trailer.

Final Words:

The Long Riders is not a perfect movie, but the clever casting and good direction from Walter Hill make it is a quirky nontraditional Western that is worth watching.


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