Saturday, July 6, 2013


"She ain't ugly."

I watched RIDE LONESOME (1959) this afternoon, one of several outstanding western films directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott (who would have made a great Doc Savage!).

In RIDE, Scott plays Brigade, a bounty hunter determined to capture a young killer, Billy John (James Best). But Brigade has more on his mind than simply capturing the killer and getting the reward money. He's got a score to settle with Billy John's brother, Frank (hawk-faced Lee Van Cleef). It seems that back when Brigade was a lawman, Frank murdered his wife by hanging her from a tree. Brigade knows that once he's captured Billy John, Frank will come after him. And that's just what he wants.

After Brigade captures Billy John, things get complicated when Brigade runs across a couple of would be bounty hunters, Boone (Pernell Roberts) and Whit (James Coburn, in his film debut) at a stagecoach station along with Mrs. Lane (Karen Steele), the widow of the recently deceased station master who was murdered by the mescaleros. Boone and Whit want to turn in Billy John for the reward money and the promised amnesty that goes with it so they ride along to make sure nothing happens to Brigade and his prisoner until they get to Santa Cruz. The small band is alternately pursued by the mescaleros and Frank and his gang before the showdown at the hanging tree, the site of Brigade's wife's death.

RIDE LONESOME has a great cast. Randolph Scott is terrific as the flinty, vengeance obsessed loner and the supporting cast is superb. Boetticher uses the widescreen, CinemaScope format to good advantage, filling the frame with immense, desolate landscapes in which tiny figures are located. The script, by Burt Kennedy, is tight, compact and psychologically complex. Recommended.  

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