The Hi-Lo Country

The Hi-Lo Country is a 1998 American Western film directed by Stephen Frears, starring Billy Crudup, Penélope Cruz, Woody Harrelson, Cole Hauser, Sam Elliott, Patricia Arquette, Enrique Castillo, and Katy Jurado. It is set in post-World War II New Mexico and is based on the Western novel by Max Evans.

The Hi-Lo Country
Poster of the movie The Hi-Lo Country.jpg
Directed byStephen Frears
Written byWalon Green
Based onThe Hi Lo Country
by Max Evans
Produced by
CinematographyOliver Stapleton
Edited byMasahiro Hirakubo
Music byCarter Burwell
Distributed byGramercy Pictures
Release date
  • December 30, 1998 (1998-12-30) (Limited)
  • January 22, 1999 (1999-01-22)
Running time
114 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$166,082


In the early post-World War II years, best friends Big Boy Matson (Woody Harrelson) and Pete Calder (Billy Crudup) return home to find half of their town employed by corporate cattle baron Jim Ed Love (Sam Elliott). Hanging on to the mythic ideals of the American West Big Boy and Pete team up with an old time rancher Hoover Young (James Gammon) to raise cattle the cowboy way and life in Hi-Lo, New Mexico becomes a volatile powder keg.

The fuse is lit when Mona (Patricia Arquette), the wife of Jim Ed's foreman, begins a heated affair with Big Boy. Pete's past longings for Mona resurface with his discovery of the affair and the bond of friendship becomes sorely tested. Ultimately, Pete and Big Boy's friendship will be decided by the extent of their yearnings for the same woman, while Hi-Lo awaits the outcome of the explosive run-ins between Jim Ed Love and two proud cowboys.



The film was regarded by critics and film festivals as an example of the "classic" Western movie genre.[1][2]

Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "The traditional settings of Westerns are honored: the saloon, the dance hall, the rodeo, the cattle drive, the snowstorm. Hi-Lo is not only the name of the high-country flatlands where the story takes place, it is also a poker game, and that Western cliche is given a good spin, too."[2]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times said, "In its best moments the movie feels like an epic hybrid of Red River and The Last Picture Show."[3]

The score by Carter Burwell, and the Western swing songs of Floyd Tillman, Vaughn Monroe, Eddy Arnold, Merle Travis, Tex Williams, and Hank Williams and sequence performances by Don Walser and Leon Rausch, were well regarded.[2]


Home mediaEdit

On December 18, 2012, Shout! Factory rereleased the film on DVD.[5]


  1. ^ Champlin, Charles (January 1, 1999). "Max Evans: Lone Writer of The Hi-Lo Country". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b c Graham, Bob (January 15, 1999). "Hi-Lo Cowboys at Home on the Range". San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. ^ Holden Stephen (December 30, 1998). "Hi-Lo Country: Even Cowboys Get the Blues". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Berlinale: 1999 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  5. ^ "The Hi-Lo Country". 18 December 2012 – via Amazon.

External linksEdit