This film is amazing is that it employs four sets of actor brothers to play four sets of real historical brothers in the James/Younger gang. What would be expected to be a hopeless gimmick by a director famous for gimmicks, comes off perfectly. My favorite Jesse James film. Great music, too. If you haven't seen this film, check out the trailer on MUBI.
If Peckinpah used his raw and explosive, ultra-violence as a way to subvert Western film traditions of peacemaking and chivalry within a macho style, Hill approaches his shootouts as bloody bullet-poetry that disrupts its familial tranquility and turns its criminals into social/moral justice warriors. Would’ve been epic length in another director’s hands, but Hill makes it lean, mean, and with sniper-precision.
A solid Western by Walter Hill. Although the film has the unfortunate & dubious sympathy for the Dixie South, The Long Riders is a skilled & accomplished film. It's superbly written, with economy & wit, & it has the novelty of casting four sets of real-life brothers as the gang of the the infamous Jesse James folk tale. It's a fine take on the legend but I do prefer the Brad Pitt one by Andrew Dominik.
There are some movies which don't pass the test of time. They were meant to be seen at that particular time, and now just seem like a waste of time. You're supposed to think that these were men just doing their job. Senseless violence and mythologizing.
It's shocking at first to see Walter Hill away from his stylized city scapes into calm and shining green lands - like his hero, he struggles to settle in this kind of life. But Hill had great ancestors in Hawks and Peckinpah, and finds in Jesse James the same tragedy of his younger, more modern characters: a violent generation without future, but nevertheless choosing to run toward it with all their momentum.