director Monte Hellman
Recently, Criterion released Monte Hellman’s The Shooting (1966) and Ride in the Whirlwind with new 4K restorations overseen by the director. This is quite class treatment for two Westerns shot on Roger Corman budgets back-to-back in the mid-1960’s, the second of which was supposedly made at Corman’s suggestion to make 2 films and try to make a savings on budget.
I watched The Shooting over a decade ago, before restoration, and found it interesting. Ride in the Whirlwind benefits considerably from the clean-up. Filmed on the cheap it may be, but it’s a reasonably good-looking picture.
Written by and starring Jack Nicholson, it tells of three cowpokes who find themselves bedding down in a small valley as they head back to Texas. The lone structure in the valley is a small cabin, packed with the cagey and dangerous thieves who recently robbed a stagecoach. When the posse catches up to everybody, they’re all pinned down and getting picked off and the cowpokes are quickly mistaken for the criminals.
Nicholson and Cameron Mitchell manage to make their way onto a plateau, but are forced to take a small farming family hostage as they try to sort out their means of escape.
In a lot of ways, it’s a somewhat conventional Western, though perhaps with exception to the open-ended ending. That’s not to discredit it, just to accurately describe it.
A still pretty spry Harry Dean Stanton is one of the outlaws.