Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Ride the High Country’ according to dirty rat James Drury

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Nefarious gold miner Billy Hammond [James Drury] and guileless bride-to-be Elsa Knudsen [Mariette Hartley] on location in the Santa Monica Mountains for “Ride the High Country,” Sam Peckinpah’s second film behind the camera following the little-seen “Deadly Companions.” Shot on a tight 26-day budget where soap suds were substituted for snow, the elegiac western served as Randolph Scott’s swansong and Joel McCrea’s last great role. Earning the top honor at Cannes, “Ride the High Country” was regrettably treated apathetically in the USA and lost money upon its May 9, 1962, issue. The matter was belatedly rectified with its 1992 preservation in the National Film Registry housed within the Library of Congress, although Peckinpah, Scott, and McCrea had sadly already passed away. Image Credit: screengrab / Cinematographer Lucien Ballard / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / IMDB

The James Drury Interview, Part Three

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Clutching a Remington Model 8 semiautomatic rifle, scruffy Henry Hammond [Warren Oates] and James Drury ambush Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Mariette Hartley, and Ron Starr on mountainous terrain in director Sam Peckinpah’s masterpiece “Ride the High Country,” distributed on May 9, 1962. Image Credit: Western Movies Forum France user Lasbugas / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
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Rotten brothers Elder Hammond [John Anderson], Billy Hammond [James Drury], and Jimmy Hammond [John Davis Chandler] guard their mining camp tent in “Ride the High Country.” Image Credit: screengrab / Cinematographer Lucien Ballard / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / IMDB
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In her film debut, crestfallen bride Mariette Hartley prepares to officially join hands with drunken gold miner James Drury in “Ride the High Country.” In the background John Anderson, Warren Oates, and Sylvus Hammond [L.Q. Jones] look uncomfortably menacing. Image Credit: screengrab / Cinematographer Lucien Ballard / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / IMDB
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Coarse Gold mining camp saloon owner Kate [Jenie Jackson] is mighty pleased when Mariette Hartley and James Drury kiss passionately in a lobby card from “Ride the High Country.” L.Q. Jones, still kicking at age 93, appears over Drury’s right shoulder with his fist in the air. Image Credit: Western Movies Forum France user “Abilene” / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
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Mariette Hartley learns the hard way that her new husband James Drury is a no-good thieving drunk in a lobby card from “Ride the High Country.” Image Credit: Western Movies Forum France user Lasbugas / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
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Mariette Hartley is saved in the nick of time by quick-triggered former lawman Steve Judd [Joel McCrea] as Billy Hammond [James Drury] is spread-eagled, knocked-out cold to be precise, on a saloon floor. Elder Hammond [John Anderson, background center] is none too pleased. Wild West show assistant Heck Longtree [Ron Starr] sports the tan jacket and ultimately demonstrates true affection for Hartley’s character in Sam Peckinpah’s “Ride the High Country.” Image Credit: Western Movies Forum France user “Abilene” / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
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Billy Hammond [James Drury] has cold-bloodedly murdered Elsa’s father Joshua Knudsen [R.G. Armstrong] and covertly peaks through a window awaiting Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Mariette Hartley, and Ron Starr’s return in “Ride the High Country.” Drury continued meeting fans at events across the United States and contributing on-camera interviews for the INSP network’s vintage screenings of “The Virginian” until his death of natural causes on April 6, 2020. He was 12 days shy of his 86th birthday. Image Credit: screengrab / Cinematographer Lucien Ballard / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / IMDB

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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