The Long Riders

The Long Riders
The Long Riders

Recommended by Ralph Mellon

A vivid, recognisable style is the mark of any great film-maker, and a genuine qualifier is Walter Hill, whose pictures include ‘The Warriors’, ‘Southern Comfort’, ‘48 Hours’, ‘Streets Of Fire’, Extreme Prejudice’, ‘Red Heat’ and ‘Trespass’.

This western, from 1980, looks at the James-Younger outlaw gang, in the post-Civil War era to beyond the famously ill-fated 1876 bank raid in Northfield, Minnesota.

It has four sets of acting brothers – Keach, Carradine, Quaid and Guest – as the James’, the Youngers, the Millers and the Fords respectively.

One main criticism is probably that the film’s narrative is too episodic. But visually it’s superb, with the open, expansive outdoors filmed to lavish effect by Ric Waite, and there is some imaginative use of sound and slow-motion imagery in the climactic robbery bid, amid liberal sprays of blood.

Plus there’s a brilliant music score by Ry Cooder, who composed many great soundtracks for Hill and other directors. This is one of his very best.