Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 190
From [an] unlikely source comes an almost perfectly realised little film called Guns in the Afternoon [released in the United States as Ride the High Country] …, directed by Sam Peckinpah…. Sentimental moviegoers … are going to get quite a lot more than they bargained for: a movie full of intelligence, quiet charm, and thorough understanding of its materials….
[What is so attractive about the film] is the intelligent way in which the direction and dialogue handle and exploit [the] nostalgia, developing it into a touching and significant tribute to the best elements of the Western myth….
With this film Peckinpah displays not mere competence, but imagination and promise. Under his direction, [the lead actors] play with extraordinary ease and charm; his heavies—simultaneously funny and menacing—achieve the chilly balance which Ford tries for and often misses…. And certain individual touches are magnificent: a moronic gunman, frustrated at missing his human quarry, begins firing in wild fury at a flock of chickens.
DuPre Jones, "Film Reviews: 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' and 'Guns in the Afternoon'," in Sight and Sound (copyright © 1962 by The British Film Institute), Vol. 31, No. 3, Summer 1962, p. 146.∗
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