The Hi-Lo Country

Peckinpah toyed with adapting this 1961 novel by Max Evans: it echoes all those end-of-the-Old-West stories about taciturn men caught out by changing times. Two ex-GIs come home to the Midwest after WWII to find that old girlfriends have married other people and that cattle ranching has gone corporate. The big economic issues hang in the background, clouding the thoughts of 'Big Boy' Matson (Harrelson, wearyingly laddish) and his introverted friend Pete Calder (Crudup, excellent), but the story ultimately boils down to a display of emotional grandstanding, featuring adultery, jealousy, sibling rivalry and blood. Frears and Stapleton deliver an impeccably crafted film, but it's at best a polished retro item. Time and the Marlboro man have done for the kind of awe John Ford and others once conjured from expansive images of cattle drives across the big country.

Release details

Duration: 114 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Stephen Frears
Screenwriter: Walon Green
Cast: Woody Harrelson
Billy Crudup
Patricia Arquette
Cole Hauser
Katy Jurado
Sam Elliott
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