Cast & Crew
In the old West, the James gang rampages across Missiouri robbing banks. The gang, made up of four sets of brothers, the Youngers, the Jameses, the Millers, and the Fords, bicker among themselves as lawmen throughout the state try in vain to catch them.
Thomas R Myers
R B Thrift
J Don Ferguson
Harry Carey Jr.
Savannah Smith Boucher
Jack T. Collis
Mary F. Galloway
Walla Works Inc
Mary Lou Maclaury
Michael H Mcgaughy
Steven Phillip Smith
James E Webb
The Long Riders
Believe it or not, The Long Riders began as a musical, the brainchild of Georgia-born actors Stacy and James Keach. At the time a celebrated stage and film performer, Stacy had gotten his industry start with guest roles on such weekly TV oaters as Sugarfoot and The Adventures of Jim Bowie and had already played Arizona's most famous deputized dentist in Frank Perry's Doc (1971); a few years later, younger brother James had been one of the feuding Hatfields in the ABC telefilm The Hatfields and the McCoys (1975). Also a member of The Hatfields and the McCoys ensemble was Robert Carradine, younger brother of David, who asked the Keaches if there might be room in their Jesse James project for the Carradine clan. Initially reluctant, middle Carradine brother Keith (whose career as a leading man was finally kicking into gear) eventually consented to play Jim Younger to David's Cole, while the Keaches reached out to Randy and Dennis Quaid to fill the boots of Clell and Ed Miller. To persuade United Artists that this novelty act could be a viable feature film, a lavish party was thrown at Stacy Keach's Malibu ranch, where Beau and Jeff Bridges came onboard to play the Ford brothers. (The Bridges boys later dropped out of the project and were replaced with Christopher and Nicholas Guest.) Apparently, all that familial enthusiasm sold United Artists, who gave The Long Riders the green light.
Director Walter Hill was an old hand at steely, action-driven fare, having by this point directed Hard Times (1975) with Charles Bronson as a Depression era bare knuckle fighter, as well as The Warriors (1979), a New York gang war film that took its cue from ancient Greek literature and went on to earn $17 million on its first run. The Long Beach, California native sought escape from childhood asthma in comic books and it was his first ambition to be a comic book artist. After graduation from Michigan State University (by way of Mexico City College, where he studied literature and history), Hill entertained notions of signing up to fight in Vietnam. Rejected by the armed forces, Hill entered the Director's Guild of America's assistant director program and worked on the set of Peter Yates' Bullitt (1968) and Martin Ritt's The Great White Hope (1970). His first screenplay was produced in 1972 as Hickey & Boggs, starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby as a pair of cynical Los Angeles cops.
Through the decade, Hill made a reputation for himself as a specialist in lean, mean action scripts, among them Sam Peckinpah's The Getaway (1972), his own The Driver (1978) and an unused draft of Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), which he had also helped to cast. Hill worked without additional credit to overhaul the The Long Riders screenplay, which he envisioned as a chapter of American frontier history elevated to the level of grand opera.
For the most part, critics failed to see things Hill's way. "The narrative is episodic in the extreme," carped Variety while The Chicago Reader's Dave Kehr branded the film Hill's "first outright failure." While The Long Riders did eventually do better than make its money back, movie audiences were largely in absentia in a year that also saw the release of such popular fluff as Private Benjamin, Airplane!, Caddyshack and the first Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back.
The Long Riders may have been adversely affected by the flood of bad press that greeted the release of Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate a month or so earlier. If Hill's Western can be said to have failed, it did so for the same reason that Blade Runner underperformed both were clearly 70s movies that had the poor fortune to be released in the 1980s. They were too complex, too ambitious and too demanding for audiences who had seemingly had their fill of moral ambiguity, flawed heroes and downbeat finishes. But as Ridley Scott's grim projection of life in Los Angeles thirty years into the future inched its way to classic status by dint of unapologetic fan worship, so The Long Riders has developed its own circle of admirers, with the British periodical Time Out recently praising it as "beautiful, laconic and unsentimental." The film has weathered the past two decades well and its status has been elevated, according to some film writers, to the short list of nominees for "the last great Hollywood western."
Producer: Tim Zinnemann
Director: Walter Hill
Screenplay: Bill Bryden, Steven Phillip Smith, Stacy Keach, James Keach; Walter Hill (uncredited)
Cinematography: Ric Waite
Art Direction: Peter Romero
Music: Ry Cooder
Film Editing: Freeman Davies, David Holden
Cast: David Carradine (Cole Younger), Keith Carradine (Jim Younger), Robert Carradine (Bob Younger), James Keach (Jesse James), Stacy Keach (Frank James), Dennis Quaid (Ed Miller), Randy Quaid (Clell Miller), Kevin Brophy (John Younger), Harry Carey, Jr. (George Arthur), Christopher Guest (Charlie Ford), Shelby Leverington (Annie Ralston).
by Richard Harland Smith
David Carradine interview by Tom Rainone, Psychotronic Video No. 5
Walter Hill interview by Mike Greco, Film Comment, 1980
Walter Hill biography, World Film Directors, edited by John Wakeman
The Long Riders
Edward Bunker (1933-2005)
He was born on December 31, 1933 in Hollywood, California to a mother who was a chorus girl in a few Busby Berkely musicals, and a father who was a studio grip; two of the lesser positions in the Hollywood hierarchy. After his parents divorced when he was four, he spent the next several years in various foster homes and juvenile reform schools. By 14, he notched his first criminal conviction for burglery; at 17, he stabbed a youth prison guard; and by 19, he was considered so violent a felon, that he became the youngest inmate ever at San Quentin.
For the next 20 years, Bunker would be in and out of prison for numerous felonies: robbery, battery, and check forgery, just to name a few. While in prison, he read the novel of another San Quentin inmate, Caryl Chessman, whose book, Cell 2455, Death Row, was a reveleation to Bunker, so he set about devoting himself to writing.
He enrolled in a correspondence course in freshman English from the University of California, and after several years of unpublished novels, he struck gold in 1973 with No Beast So Fierce. The novel, about a paroled thief whose attempt to reenter mainstream society fails, was as tough and unforgiving as anything ever written about a parolee's readjustment to the outside, and it rightfully earned Bunker acclaim as a writer to watch.
After he was released from prison in 1975, Bunker concentrated on writing and acting. His big film break happened when No Beast So Fierce was turned into the movie Straight Time (1978) starring Dustin Hoffman. He co-wrote the screenplay, and also had a small part as one of Hoffman's cronies.
Bunker's next big hit as a screenwriter and actor was Runaway Train (1985), a pulsating drama about two escaped convicts (Jon Voight and Eric Roberts) where again, he had a small role as Jonah. It was obvious by now that Bunker, with his gruff voice, unnerving gaze, broken nose, and his signature feature - a scar from a knife wound that ran from his forehead to his lip - would make a most enigmatic movie villian.
A few more roles in prominent pictures followed: The Running Man, Shy People (both 1987), Tango & Cash (1989), before he scored the best role of his career, Mr. Blue in Quentin Tarantino's celebrated cult caper Reservoir Dogs (1992). It couldn't have been easy for Bunker to hold his own in a cast of heavyweights (Harvey Keitel, Lawrence Tierney, Tim Roth and Steve Buscemi), but he did - and with a muscularly lithe style that was all his own.
After Reservoir Dogs, Bunker was in demand as a villian. His next few films: Distant Cousins (1993), Somebody to Love (1994), were routine, but he proved that he could deliver with professional, if familiar performances. Actor Steve Buscemi helped Bunker get his novel Animal Factory to the screen in 2000, with Bunker again adapting his own work for film. He was last seen as a convict, although with sharp comedic overtones, in the recent Adam Sandler farce The Longest Yard (2005). He is survived by his son, Brendan.
by Michael "Mitch" Toole
Edward Bunker (1933-2005)
Released in United States 1980
Released in USA on video.
Released in United States 1980