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The Longriders  

USA 1980 Directed by Walter Hill. Starring: David Carradine, Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine, James Keach, Stacy Keach, Dennis Quaid, Randy Quaid.

It´s swarming with brothers here. Walter Hill got hold of real brothers who should act the films brothers. The story is based on real facts and we will follow the notorious Jesse James-gang during a period. The South has lost the civil war, but Jesse James and his brother Frank (Keach brothers), together with the Younger brothers (Carradine brothers) and the Miller brothers (Quaid brothers), continues to rob and steal from the North. The Pinkertons detective agency will try to stop the terror, and offers the people a reward for each gang member who is reported. But the local population don´t think that the gang does something wrong, and helps them to hide themselves instead. The hunting is long and bloody, and many innocents has to lose their lifes. Finally is however the time catch up with Jesse and his gang. When they are going to rob the bank in Northfield, has someone given a tip-off about that, and the whole town is waiting for them when they are coming.

"The Long Riders" is in my opinion the best western film that has been made, since Sam Peckinpah 69´ made "The Wild Bunch". Maybe that is not saying much, because western films as we all know, hasn´t complete been much of a success under the last decades. But I rate it anyhow very high within the genre. By the way is there wooden plays in general by the brothers. Stiffest of them all is the supposed leading actor, James Keach. However, "The Long Riders" focuses on the whole gang, not only Jesse James. It is actually only David Carradine who´s really good. He always fits in as a shabby-looking ruffian.

But now is it the action elements which Walter Hill is famous for, and he really not hold his fire here. He is extremely experienced in his slow-motion technique which is much used, and it shows that he is inspired of Peckinpah. The stampede from Northfield is described in an exceedingly dramatic and effective way. Hill alternates all the time between slow-motion and real movements. Horses are running into windows so pieces of broken glass are whirling. In an incredible scene is a horse shot down in full speed, so it makes a tumble and the rider falls head over heels to the ground. Hill has even put in sound effects in the slow-motion sequences. The bullets shrieks and the horses neighs in a ghostlike manner. When the camera is focused on a person, and you hear the sound from the bullet, you know he´s gonna be hit. But not where.

Kent Palmgren

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