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Ride in the Whirlwind (1966)

3:06 | Trailer
Three cowboys, mistaken for members of an outlaw gang, are relentlessly pursued by a posse.


Monte Hellman


Jack Nicholson
1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cameron Mitchell ... Vern
Millie Perkins ... Abigail
Jack Nicholson ... Wes
Katherine Squire Katherine Squire ... Catherine
George Mitchell ... Evan
Rupert Crosse Rupert Crosse ... Indian Joe
Harry Dean Stanton ... Blind Dick (as Dean Stanton)
John Hackett John Hackett ... Winslow
Tom Filer Tom Filer ... Otis
B.J. Merholz B.J. Merholz ... Edgar
Brandon Carroll Brandon Carroll ... Quint Mapes
Peter Cannon Peter Cannon ... Hagerman
William A. Keller William A. Keller ... Roy
Neil Summers ... Ward (as Neil Summer)
James Campbell James Campbell


Wes, Vern and Otis are three cowhands on the way to a cattle drive. Coming upon what is to be an omen of their future... an outlaw hung by a group of vigilantes...the trio finds shelter at a cabin, only to discover that their "hosts" are men who have robbed a stagecoach and killed the guard. When an avenging posse attacks the cabin, Wes and Vern escape, only to find that they have become branded as 'outlaws' by the posse, who relentlessly pursue them. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


ride with the Easy Rider into an action whirlwind.




G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 September 1968 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Ride in the Whirlwind See more »

Filming Locations:

Fredonia, Arizona, USA See more »


Box Office


$70,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Rupert Crosse lied about his ability to ride a horse so he could be cast in this movie. See more »


Between two shots of the stagecoach passing through a zigzag piece of road, there is a shot showing the horses galloping, from the point of view of the driver, in a different piece of road. See more »


Wes: This is the 'less work I done on a weekday since I was 4, 'less I was sick.
See more »


Referenced in Inglourious Basterds (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

bare-bones B-Western, 101
5 February 2007 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

If I had to explain with complete certainty why Ride in the Whirlwind is better than average it wouldn't be very easy because on the surface it seems average through and through. It was made obviously for bargain-basement prices (I think director/co-producer Hellman once said that he didn't think anyone would see the westerns he made in the 60s), yet with that, and within the simple confines, there's a freedom in other ways too. On the surface it seems like a cowboy story gone awry, as cattle herders Jack Nicholson and Cameron Mitchell, along with another partner, are on their way to Waco and come upon a cabin occupied by Harry Dean Stanton (in total 'bad-ass' mode with an eye-patch) and his gang (who previously robbed a stagecoach and killed a few of its passengers), and neither want any trouble so they settle for the night. The next day, of course, a posse has discovered Stanton's gang's whereabouts, and there's a shootout. Somehow, Nicholson and Mitchell (not the other partner) sneak out during the shoot-out, but are of course mistaken for being part of the gang, and are sought out to be strung-up.

What makes this simple premise- of cowboys falsely accused of pillaging and murder- more interesting than anything else is the consistent sense of dread and of the romantic sheen of more popular A-list westerns being stripped away. Since B-movies, not just B-westerns, concern more-so the basics of the characters, Hellman and writer Nicholson (who with this and the Trip shows that he actually isn't a bad writer with original material) dig into the fatalism tapped into both sides, of the posse and the prey. Some of the best scenes come up in the time that would usually be called the filler, when Nicholson and Mitchell hold up at a farmer's house and try and get their mind off of the situation with little distractions- Wes (Nicholson) checking out the horses, the two of them attempting a checkers game, trying to sleep- and what isn't said or the extra meaning behind the matter of fact dialog means a good deal. There's also the aspect to their not really being a sense of true justice, as the posse have taken it upon themselves to go after these men; you know just looking at these barely one-dimensional figures that all they want is a hanging done, no more no less.

I'm not sure how much allegory could be drawn from the picture, though on a first viewing sometimes the stilted acting by the supporting players drew away from that (there's also a practical lack of wit from the screenplay, which is appropriate but nears being a little bland for its own good). And while it doesn't dig into the complete heels of the western genre like a later John Ford or Leone movie, or even Unforgiven, Hellman's film is a cut above many other westerns that would settle for conventions being without any challenges to the situations. The climax of the picture doesn't come as too much of a shock to those who've seen their share of genre material, but it was the best way to end the picture: it's not really a happy ending, in spite of the 'riding off into the sunset' shot. There's no hope in this world, not on any side, even if complete justice is not sought. Short and succinct, this is one of those flicks to see in the one dollar bin at the video store, if only for Nicholson and Stanton's eye-patch.

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