Something seemed to come together on the half dozen or so cheap Westerns that Oscar "Bud" Boetticher made with Randolph Scott and writer Burt Kennedy, and shot mostly among the stucco crags at Movie Flats, California. It all seemed to work out pretty well.
I think this may have been their last joint effort and it's one of the better examples. The scripts seemed to fall into two general types -- town stories and journeys. This is a story about a journey, not too different from the one Scott took in "Ride Lonesome," I think it was. The one with Pernell Roberts.
There is always an interesting villain, not entirely unsympathetic, who has a code of his own. In this case it's Claude Akins, accompanied by two younger men who have known each other for a long time. The two youngsters provide a good deal of the humor. The two stand before a couple of posters nailed on a wall and one of them reads aloud an announcement about the stagecoach route, stumbling over the words. The other stares at him open-mouthed and exclaims in genuine wonder, "Why, I didn't know you could READ."
In fact a lot of the humor comes from Kennedy's script, wittingly or otherwise. He's given to phrases that enjoy a colorful twist.
"Ma'am, if you was mine, I'd of come for you even if I'd of died in the doin' of it."
"He rides a little on the gentle side. Maybe too gentle."
"A man can break with the wild life."
And Kennedy gives us a Scott who is a man of few words and doesn't use them over and over again. He has a tendency to answer a declaratory sentence with a doubtful question. "It wasn't MY fault." Scott: "It wasn't?"
But the humor is in the acting as well. Claude Akins, admittedly, is no barrel of laughs. He's played too many scoundrels for us to accept his jokes. But the two youngsters are likably ingenuous. Planning to kill their woman hostage, one tells the other, "It's a waste. It ain't like if she was all ugly. It's a shame to do a woman as pretty as that."
And Scott is the most amusing character of all. He's funny because he plays it all absolutely straight. He smiles only grimly, and then only once or twice. He understates outrageously. Akins: "If the Comanche cut our track, we'll be between a rock and a hard place." Scott: "You CAN say."
By the way, if they're a day's ride from Lordsberg, New Mexico, they shouldn't have to worry about Comanches, who were living in Texas, but they might have to worry about Mimbrenos Apaches.
The Indians are treated in an entirely uncomplicated manner. They are wild animals who butcher whites, including the women and children. ("Surprising what a buck will do for a piece of calico.") Well -- okay -- there IS a reference to Akins having murdered a village full of "tame Indians," which one imagines are kind of like "tame black panthers" or something.
The score is generic, as in all the Boetticher/Scott films, but that's okay because it fits in with the other constituents. It's tawdry and simple. There is a "major theme" which plays while this merry group ride their horses around the rocks. During chases, the same theme shows up but up tempo. As I say, it all works out.
Anyway, it's a fun movie, an interesting way to spend an hour and a half.
Action / Drama / Western
Action / Drama / Western
Loner Cody trades with the Comanches to get a white girl released. He is joined on his way back to the girl's husband by an outlaw and his sidekicks. It turns out there is a large reward for the return of the girl, and with the Indians on the warpath and the outlaw being an old enemy of Cody's, things are set for several showdowns.
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February 27, 2016 at 06:07 PM