Monday, 29 February 2016

Ride in the Whirlwind

I watched Monte Hellman's 1965 Western this morning courtesy of Criterion's double-bill with The Shooting, only my second time seeing the film over the years. I picked up a Greek DVD many holidays ago which featured an eye-searing transfer of the film, no better than a pirate VHS tape and quite unwatchable, so this morning's screening was quite auspicious. I won't explore any of the supplements until I watch The Shooting, but I did catch the 6min conversation with Hellman and Roger Corman both recalling that early drafts of the screenplays required more action sequences to beef up interest. It's an interesting admission, especially so regarding Ride in the Whirlwind, a very spartan Western as is - I wonder what that original draft was like to begin with ? I think one of the film's strengths is its sense of space and film's minimalism invites any number of readings. An early line in the film about "human fruit" immediately put in mind the great Billy Holiday song Strange Fruit and I very much had Southern Lynching mobs in mind as the film unfolded. Less weird than its more celebrated stablemate, the film nonetheless stands as one of the best Westerns of the 60's.

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