I recently concluded my Budd Boetticher marathon, and came to realize that moviegoers and fans of the western have Budd to thank for the birth of the Revisionist Western, where the settings were grittier, the violence was brutal, and the characters were no longer painted in archaic black and white. True, Leone certainly kick-started it, but Budd probably built the engine. Budd took a once hokey genre (while it was still hokey) and made it into something visceral and fascinating, and told stories that were refreshingly different from the norm — I bet you won’t enjoy most classic westerns as much after being spoiled by these films. If you love westerns you absolutely have to watch the Randolph Scott series, even though some are way better than others. You can get most of them in a dvd set — the ones not included in the dvd set are marked with an asterisk (*).
7 Men From Now *. I think Boetticher said something about, “We didn’t make B pictures; we made C pictures. We were so far from the censors that we got away with murder.” It’s unbelievable how much sexual tension is in this movie. Co-stars the always awesome and talented Lee Marvin and the always gorgeous Gail Russel.
The Tall T. This one started like a typical hokey classic western, and I found myself rolling my eyes constantly…up until the end of the first act, when it suddenly took a turn for the dark and stayed in that territory for the rest of the film. Co-stars Richard Boone and the always crazy Henry Silva.
Decision at Sundown. Scott rides into Sundown to kill Tate Kimbrough, the unofficial dictator of the town of Sundown, for driving his wife to suicide. It goes pretty poorly, but it’s interesting how inadvertently Tate’s influence over the town is destroyed as a result.
Buchanan Rides Alone. I really don’t like this one because of how typical it feels to any other western of the period, although a town run by three crooked, feuding brothers is an interesting setting.
Ride Lonesome. I mentioned this excellent film in the Great Westerns list. It’s still probably Boetticher’s best western for its perfect pacing and memorable characters. Features Pernell Roberts, Lee Van Cleef, and the first screen appearance of James Coburn.
Comanche Station. This one feels a lot like an alternate draft of Ride Lonesome — it has a lot of merit on its own, but I feel it’s a lot weaker overall.
Two Mules for Sister Sarah *. Okay, this one doesn’t have Randolph Scott, but it seemed the best way to end a Boetticher marathon, since he wrote but didn’t direct this humorous Shirley MacLaine / Clint Eastwood adventure.