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A Bad Day at the Office!
on 26 February 2015
This review relates to the Finnish blu-ray version. I was rather pleased with this rather unusual find. There aren’t too many blu-ray versions of the more obscure westerns around! In fact you do quite well to find standard Region 2 DVD’s most of the time! This one comes from Finland where they presumably still like their westerns on those long cold winters nights, amongst other things! This one is titled “Ryovarit”, which seems a very short translation of “The Great Northfield Minnesota “. I prefer this title whatever it means! There are no extras. It only offers optional Danish, Swedish and Finnish subtitles. The picture quality as you would expect is a cut above the usual foreign western DVD’s.
The film takes a novel approach to the Jesse James legend by concentrating on that one famous ill fated raid in Northfield Minnesota, where those good ol boys encountered a few irate townsfolk. It is a sensible route to take as just about everything else about the James gang had already been done. Even so, there was more to come! This one takes the brutal seventies ‘mud and rags’ demythologising of the west a step further than the Hollywoodised “The Long Riders” and even the fascinating “The Assassination of Jesse James by the horrid dirty rotten snivelling little coward Bob Ford”.
It is all surprisingly well realised. Northfield looks very similar to the Northfield of the old photos. It was in fact filmed in Jacksonville Oregon. The attention to period detail is heart warming. The events that take place are loosely based on the actual raid. If you are a stickler for historical accuracy, then this film will fall short of your expectations. That said it gives a good idea of how confusion and chaos can quickly descend on the best laid plans of mice and men. The cast is excellent. Cliff Robertson is a standout Cole Younger, who knows how to spin a yarn. One of his better performances! His unusual line in body armour does not seem up to Kevlar standards! Robert Duvall is darkly funny as a murderous spiritually charged Jesse James. Peckinpah stalwart R G Armstrong catches the eye as a gang member. Those distinctive character actors Elisha Cook jnr and Royal Dano also appear in small roles. It is a refreshingly original take on the legend, and one that I enjoyed very much. A bargain buy for a blu-ray, and astonishingly quick delivery from Finland! Well pleased!