The Long Riders

release year: 1980
genre: western
viewing setting: home DVD, 12/17/01

synopsis: Frank and Jesse James and their gang take turns robbing banks and trying to settle down.

impressions: I wanted to like it. I really did. It had all the marks of greatness: western, Walter Hill directing, great cast. However, somehow, it didn't all come together for me. One problem was what I like to call "70s/80s mumbling syndrome" - the vast majority of the lines were spoken so low that I had to crank the volume just to have a chance to hear them (the lack of English subtitles on this DVD, despite the presence of Spanish and French ones, sure didn't help.) Another problem I had was keeping track of who was who - there were at least 7 main characters in the gang, most of whom I don't recall ever being named directly in the movie. Finally, the sequence of events didn't seem to flow well; things would move from gunfight to homestead, or months or years would pass, without any connecting dialogue or explanation. All in all, this was hard to follow, and all I got out of it was a vague notion of major events in the lives of some of the gang members. Even the big gunfight at the end was muddled - people would be shown aiming and shooting at other people, and then the camera would go somewhere else; the impression this left me with was that nobody was getting hit most of the time, despite hundreds of bullets being fired. I will give credit, though: when you _did_ see people get hit or killed, it was spectacularly realistic and gory.

acting: No faults here. We have 2 Keaches, 3 Carradines, and 2 Quaids, all of whom did at least fair jobs. James Keach and David Carradine stuck out in my head as the most memorable characters, perhaps due to having the most screen time and dialogue.

final word: It's a western, and it has a story to tell, and the music's good...but it was hard for me to watch with any real interest.

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