7 years before "The Wild Bunch" Sam Peckinpah made "Ride The High Country", a western gem, considered by many to be his second masterpiece. "Ride The High Country", known in Great Britain as "Guns In The Afternoon" has all the quality and character of "The Wild Bunch" and even features a number of Peckinpah's regular support players including, Warren Oates and L.Q. Jones. "Ride The High Country" stars veteran actors Joel McCrea & Randolph Scott as two-old-timers trying to make ends meet in a west that is changing faster than they are. They like to defend their old values with pride, dignity and their six-guns. The plot sees the two aging gunfighters hired by a bank to pick up a gold shipment from a nearby mining town and return it to the bank. The trail requires travelling through some dangerous high country so along for the ride comes Randolph Scott's young protégé, played by Ron Starr. Unbeknown to McCrea, Scott & Starr are planning to steal the gold for themselves. Emotions run hot and the plot thickens when they cross paths with a young woman (Mariette Hartley in his first screen role) who has runaway from her overbearing father to marry her boyfriend (James Drury of "Virginian" fame) who now works in the mining town where McCrea & Scott are to pick up the gold shipment. When Hartley marries she soon realises she has made the biggest mistake of her life. Her husband and his brothers are nothing more than dangerous booze-drinking psychopaths. It is now up to McCrea, Scott and Starr to recuse Hartley from her predicament and also complete the job they set out to do. With an engrossing character driven plot, first-rate performances from a talented cast and outstanding direction by Sam Peckinpah, "Ride The High Country" has become one of the best westerns to come out of the 1960's. When this film was made the traditional Hollywood western was going through a transitional period and making way for the new breed of Italian spaghetti western that was about to explode on the screen with Clint Eastwood's "A Fistful Of Dollars". "Ride The High Country" is a salute to the changing times of the old west and to two great western actors who with this film go out in grand style. It is interesting to note that their roles were originally reversed and both Scott and McCrea came out of retirement to make this classic film that was supposed to be only a B-western. After "Ride The High Country" Scott remained retired while McCrea went on to make a few more films including an appearance with his son Jody in "Cry, Blood Apache" (1970). If you have seen "The Wild Bunch" and liked it but have not yet seen "Ride The High Country" then you don't know what you're missing out on, this predecessor to "The Wild Bunch" is almost on an equal par.