Sunday, January 31, 2016

#735: Ride in the Whirlwind

(Monte Hellman, 1966)

Where The Shooting used simplicity to deliver an existential Western unlike any other in its genre, Ride in the Whirlwind uses simplicity to deliver... a really simple Western. This doesn't automatically render the film ineffective - in fact, this is actually a pretty good movie with a stripped down concept that might be even more entertaining than its companion piece. But it does make this a merely solid low budget genre pic where The Shooting was a unique and borderline classic Western that's unlike anything else.

It should be noted that The Shooting was written by Carole Eastman, who would go on to write Five Easy Pieces (and wrote the English dialogue for Model Shop, Demy's American sequel to Lola - Unexpected Criterion Crossover Alert!) while Ride in the Whirlwind was written by Jack Nicholson, famed writer of Drive, He Said (OK, he also wrote Head, which is great, but hardly deep). So it's not necessarily surprising that The Shooting would be more impressive, though it's kind of amazing when you consider the fact that almost everything else about the two films is identical, from location and cast to director and time of production. Hellman certainly does a great job on both, but the significance of his moody style varies with subject and structure.

While The Shooting is significantly more worthy of inclusion in the Criterion Collection, it makes total sense that the two films would be grouped together - really there's no way to separate them, and it's arguable that The Shooting is less valuable without being attached to the second film Hellman and company made in the desert. That said, Ride in the Whirlwind is a movie to be watched and filed away, whereas The Shooting is one for the ages.

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