Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Westerns and the overall filmmaking process. Click here to listen.
Week 166: Down the Long Hills (1986)
Burt Kennedy’s 80s work is a series of easy-going Western adventures. The lightweight tone of these films works better in Down the Long Hills than it did in Shootout in a One Dog Town because this isn’t much different than a Disney film. Child characters, played incredibly well by the boy and girl actors, are on the run from Comanches, horse thieves, and a variety of wild animals.
To increase the mouse-house feeling of it all, there’s a big red horse that helps them out along the way. However, none of their encounters feel the least bit suspenseful though I will argue once again that a scene with a real grizzly bear, however many trick shots are used, is so much more effective than one with a CGI creature. That is probably the highlight of this film, that and the location photography.
In his later years, I just don’t think Burt was interested in casting a dark shade over his characters. Even the horse thieves, played by Bo Hopkins and Michael Wren, are relatively friendly. The film has such a cheery feeling that it seems wrong for any of its characters to perish. And perhaps feel-good movies just don’t do much for me, maybe it will for you.
Watched on rarefilmm.com