I recently watched Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country for the first time in several years. It’s still a classic, but a couple of things struck me. First, Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott are really game for being in a different kind of western. These weren’t exactly let’s mix it up and experiment kind of actors. But Peckinpah, while his sensibility wasn’t fully developed yet and we are a long ways from The Wild Bunch, is clearly doing something different here. McCrea is clearly and obviously the Good Guy here and Randolph Scott, well, you know he hasn’t truly broken bad. It’s in the somewhat ridiculous love story between the pretty seriously miscast Mariette Hartley (who feels like she has jumped back in time from 1960) and Ron Starr, who is Scott’s sidekick. Most of this is nonsense, but the scenes where Hartley gets married to James Drury before she realizes what a monster he is that are fascinating. Here, Peckinpah demonstrates that the all the brothers, who are played by such future stalwarts for this kind of thing in L.Q. Jones and the great Warren Oates, are expecting to be able to rape her at will and the film goes a long ways with this. This is not just Black Hat evil, this is nasty gross violent evil. That’s Peckinpah’s real emphasis. McCrea and Scott are almost along for the ride.