Film Review – BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE (1958)

BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE (USA, 1958) ***
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Producers-Actors Corporation / Scott-Brown Productions ; Release Date: 6 August 1958 (USA), December 1958 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 February 1958–27 February 1958; Running Time: 78m; Colour: ColumbiaColor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: U.
      Director: Budd Boetticher; Writer: Charles Lang (based on the novel “The Name’s Buchanan” by Jonas Ward); Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Associate Producer: Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Lucien Ballard; Music Composer: Stock (Mischa Bakaleinikoff, George Duning, Heinz Roemheld, Paul Sawtell); Film Editor: Al Clark; Art Director: Robert F. Boyle; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Costumes: Bucky Rous; Make-up: Al Greenway (uncredited); Sound: John P. Livadary.
      Cast: Randolph Scott (Tom Buchanan), Craig Stevens (Abe Carbo), Barry Kelley (Lew Agry), Tol Avery (Judge Simon Agry), Peter Whitney (Amos Agry), Manuel Rojas (Juan de la Vega), L.Q. Jones (Pecos Hill), Robert Anderson (Waldo Peck), Joe De Santis (Esteban Gomez), William Leslie (Roy Agry), Jennifer Holden (K.T.), Nacho Galindo (Nacho).
      Synopsis: A Texan heading back home with enough money to start his own ranch stops in the crooked town of Agry, where he’s robbed and framed for murder.
      Comment: Whilst this is one of the lesser of  Scott and Boetticher’s seven Western collaborations in the late 1950s, it is economically told and entertaining. The main problem is with the tone, which veers uneasily from tongue-in-cheek to melodrama with an eccentric cast of characters – notably the Agry brothers who run the town. Avery gives the strongest performance as the elder of the brothers, a judge looking to become senator but unable to resist holding a wealthy Mexican rancher’s son as hostage for money. Scott is tangled in the crossfire between the Agrys and looks on bemused at the absurdity surrounding him. Burt Kennedy ghosted on the script and his economic prose keeps the plot moving along nicely.

Film Review – RIDE LONESOME (1959)

Image result for ride lonesome 1959RIDE LONESOME (USA, 1959) ****
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation / Ranown Pictures Corp.; Release Date: 15 February 1959; Filming Dates: began 14 August 1958 – 28 August 1958; Running Time: 73m; Colour: Eastmancolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: U.
      Director: Budd Boetticher; Writer: Burt Kennedy; Executive Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Producer: Budd Boetticher, Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Charles Lawton Jr.; Music Composer: Heinz Roemheld; Film Editor: Jerome Thoms; Art Director: Robert Peterson; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Costumes: Ed Ware; Make-up: Al Greenway, Dave Grayson, Maybelle Carey; Sound: Harry D. Mills.
       Cast: Randolph Scott (Ben Brigade), Karen Steele (Mrs. Carrie Lane), Pernell Roberts (Sam Boone), James Best (Billy John), Lee Van Cleef (Frank), James Coburn (Whit), Bennie E. Dobbins (Outlaw), Roy Jenson (Outlaw), Dyke Johnson (Charlie), Boyd ‘Red’ Morgan (Outlaw), Boyd Stockman (Indian Chief).
       Synopsis: A wanted murderer, Billy John, is captured by Ben Brigade, a bounty hunter, who intends to take him to Santa Cruz to be hanged.
       Comment: Many regard this as the best of the Scott/Boetticher Westerns and it is certainly a strong vehicle. Kennedy’s lean script presents another battle of wills with Scott playing the silent bounty hunter with an ulterior motive around his prisoner, Best. Great support from Roberts, Best, Coburn (on debut) and Steele as a party thrown together and having to fend off attacks from Indians and Best’s outlaw brother (Van Cleef). The character layers are again what makes this story stand out from the crowded 1950s arena for the Western. Scott is at his stoic best toward the end of his career.

Film Review – THE TALL T (1957)

Image result for the tall t 1957THE TALL T (USA, 1957) ****
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Producers-Actors Corporation / Scott-Brown Productions; Release Date: 1 April 1957 (USA), June 1957 (UK); Filming Dates: 20 July–8 August 1956; Running Time: 78m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Budd Boetticher; Writer: Burt Kennedy (based on the story “The Captive” by Elmore Leonard); Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Associate Producer: Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Charles Lawton Jr.; Music Composer: Heinz Roemheld; Film Editor: Al Clark; Casting Director: Art Director: George Brooks; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle.
      Cast: Randolph Scott (Pat Brennan), Richard Boone (Frank Usher), Maureen O’Sullivan (Doretta Mims), Arthur Hunnicutt (Ed Rintoon), Skip Homeier (Billy Jack), Henry Silva (Chink), John Hubbard (Willard Mims), Robert Burton (Tenvoorde), Robert Anderson (Jace), Dick Johnstone (Townsman), Ann Kunde (Townswoman), Christopher Olsen (Jeff), Fred Sherman (Hank Parker).
      Synopsis: Having lost his horse in a bet, Pat Brennan hitches a ride with a stagecoach carrying newlyweds, Willard and Doretta Mims. At the next station the coach and its passengers fall into the hands of a trio of outlaws headed by a man named Usher.
      Comment: A strong Western typical of the output from Scott and director Boetticher. The humour of the story’s first act gives way to psychological drama once Scott and O’Sullivan are taken hostage by Boone, Silva and Homeier. What sets this tale apart from many other Westerns with similar themes is the complexity of the chief villain, Boone and the empathy he builds with Scott despite the prisoner/captor relationship. This creates an additional edge to the drama and the inevitable showdown finale. Tightly scripted by Kennedy from a story by Elmore Leonard (the first adaptation of his work) and set in a sparse rocky landscape, this is one the strongest entries in Scott’s filmography.

Film Review – COMANCHE STATION (1960)

Randolph Scott and Nancy Gates in Comanche Station (1960)COMANCHE STATION (USA, 1960) ***½
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Ranown Pictures Corp.; Release Date: 31 January 1960 (UK), 16 February 1960 (USA); Filming Dates: 10 June 1959–26 June 1959; Running Time: 74m; Colour: Eastmancolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Budd Boetticher; Writer: Burt Kennedy; Executive Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Producer: Budd Boetticher; Director of Photography: Charles Lawton Jr.; Music Composer: Mischa Bakaleinikoff (uncredited); Film Editor: Edwin H. Bryant; Art Director: Carl Anderson; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Sound: George Cooper, John P. Livadary.
      Cast: Randolph Scott (Jefferson Cody), Nancy Gates (Nancy Lowe), Claude Akins (Ben Lane), Skip Homeier (Frank), Richard Rust (Dobie), Rand Brooks (Station Man), Dyke Johnson (John Lowe),  P. Holland (Lowe Boy (uncredited)), Foster Hood (Comanche Lance Bearer (uncredited)), Joe Molina (Comanche Chief (uncredited)), Vincent St. Cyr (Warrior (uncredited)).
      Synopsis: A man saves a woman who had been kidnapped by Comanches, then struggles to get both of them home alive.
      Comment: The final collaboration between director Boetticher, star Scott and their frequent writer Kennedy. It is a taut, lean story that focuses on a battle of wills between a loner who rescues Gates from her Indian captors in order to return her to her husband and Akins’ gang, who aim to take her from Scott to claim the reward. Frequent bursts of action intersperse with Scott and Akins’ verbal jousts. Typically well-made with a solid cast and great locations well captured by Lawton’s widescreen photography.
      Notes:  Scott decided to retire after this one, but two years later he was talked out of retirement by Sam Peckinpah for RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962). After that film, Scott retired for good.

Film Review – SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956)

Movie Posters:Western, Seven Men from Now (Warner Brothers, 1956). Half Sheet (22" X 28").
Western.. ...SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (USA, 1956) ****
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Batjac Productions; Release Date: 15 July 1956; Filming Dates: late September–late October 1955; Running Time: 78m; Colour: WarnerColor; Sound Mix: Mono (RCA Sound Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Budd Boetticher; Writer: Burt Kennedy; Producer: Andrew V. McLaglen, Robert E. Morrison; Director of Photography: William H. Clothier; Music Composer: Henry Vars; Film Editor: Everett Sutherland; Art Director: A. Leslie Thomas; Set Decorator: Edward G. Boyle; Costumes: Rudy Harrington, Edward Sebesta, Carl Walker; Make-up: Web Overlander, Norman Pringle; Sound: Earl Crain Jr.
      Cast: Randolph Scott (Ben Stride), Gail Russell (Annie Greer), Lee Marvin (Bill Masters), Walter Reed (John Greer), John Larch (Payte Bodeen), Don ‘Red’ Barry (Clete), Fred Graham (Henchman), John Beradino (Clint), John Phillips (Jed), Chuck Roberson (Mason), Stuart Whitman (Cavalry Lt. Collins), Pamela Duncan (Señorita Nellie), Steve Mitchell (Fowler), Cliff Lyons (Henchman), Fred Sherman (The Prospector).
      Synopsis: Ex-sheriff Ben Stride tracks the seven men who held up a Wells Fargo office and killed his wife.
      Comment: Tightly directed Western with Scott in fine form as the brooding ex-sheriff hunting down those responsible for the death of his wife during a robbery. Marvin is also excellent as a chancer looking to profit. The bleakness of the subject matter is played out through a desert track and stormy weather. The script is lean and efficient and Boetticher keeps the piece moving at a good pace. Scenic photography and the smitten Russell add to the ingredients, making this one of the finest of the star and directors’ collaborations.

Film Review – THE TRAIN ROBBERS (1973)

Image result for the train robbers 1973Train Robbers, The (1973; USA; Technicolor; 92m) **½  d. Burt Kennedy; w. Burt Kennedy; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dominic Frontiere.  Cast: John Wayne, Ann-Margret, Rod Taylor, Ben Johnson, Christopher George, Bobby Vinton, Jerry Gatlin, Ricardo Montalban. A gunhand is hired by a widow to find gold stolen by her husband so that she may return it and start fresh. Late Wayne Western has a slight story that is stretched out over its running time. Disappointment from writer-director Kennedy has endless shots of the cast riding across the desert and through rivers punctuated by occasional action. Luckily, we have Wayne on board with a solid veteran cast, even if the cast is given little to work with. Beautifully photographed on location in Durango, Mexico. [U]

Film Review – THE WAR WAGON (1967)

Image result for the war wagon 1967War Wagon, The (1967; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***  d. Burt Kennedy; w. Clair Huffaker; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr., Keenan Wynn, Bruce Dern, Gene Evans, Bruce Cabot, Joanna Barnes, Sheb Wooley. A rancher returns from prison having survived being shot, to the ranch and gold that a businessman stole from him. He makes a deal with the man who shot him 5 years ago to join forces and steal a large gold shipment. Wayne and Douglas make a good team in this Western heist movie that promises more than it delivers. Keel also scores as a renegade Indian. Well shot action sequences and some witty dialogue help to mask some of the more fanciable elements of the script. Memorable Tiomkin score. Based on Huffaker’s novel “Badman”. [U]