'The Randolph Scott Roundup - 6 Classic Westerns'
(Randolph Scott, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: 'The Randolph Scott Roundup' is a collection of six (6) of his classic westerns: A Lawless Street, The Tall T, Decision At Sundown, Buchanan Rides Alone, Ride Lonesome, and Comanche Station.
DVD Verdict: First up is 'A Lawless Street' (1955) starring: Randolph Scott, Angela Lansbury, Jean Parker, Warner Anderson, and Wallace Ford. Scott is the town marshal much like Gary Cooper in 'High Noon'. Only instead of four guys coming to town to kill the marshal because of an old grudge, here we have a trio of villains: Warner Anderson, John Emery, and Michael Pate. The first two have been hiring folks to do in Scott because they want a wide open and lawless town for the saloon business. They've finally settled on Pate who does beat Scott to the draw and folks think he's been killed. Anderson is a particularly smarmy villain. He's got designs on Angela Lansbury who's a touring musical performer in town for a few performances. This is one of Scott's better movies, and Lansbury is as good as ever here.
Next up is 'The Tall T' (1957) starring: Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, Maureen O'Sullivan, Arthur Hunnicutt, and Skip Homeier. In truth, there's nothing epic about this well-crafted, workman-like western, and that works in its favor. Randolph Scott is wonderful as the world-weary small-time rancher who's pursuing a better life at an age when most men in those days were either retired or dead. He meets his evil double in the guise of Richard Boone, who finds himself out of place with the heartless thugs he finds himself running with. It's his fate but he yearns for the life that Scott has chosen. Wonderful location work. Dialogue and action are used to service the story and that's all, as it should be. As fulfilling and satisfying a movie as a good serving of stew and a mug of hot coffee.
Then comes 'Decision At Sundown' (1957) starring: Randolph Scott, John Carroll, Karen Steele, Valerie French, Noah Beery Jr., and John Archer. This particular Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott collaboration finds Scott as the meanest he ever was on the screen. At least since Coroner Creek where he played a similarly driven man on a vengeance quest against a man who killed his bride to be. It's worse in 'Decision at Sundown'. A few years earlier when Scott was away at war John Carroll took up with Scott's late wife. Now Randy with sidekick Noah Beery, Jr. has come into the town of Sundown looking to kill Carroll who has moved there and essentially taken over with his bought and paid for sheriff Andrew Duggan. Carroll by no coincidence I'm sure is getting married to Karen Steele that day, the daughter of a local rancher John Litel much to the dismay of Carroll's long time mistress Valerie French. Scott interrupts the wedding and then he and Beery are trapped in a barn. While all this is going on a lot of the townsfolk who have let Carroll and his bully boys run roughshod over them start reexamining what's happened to their town.
Next up is 'Buchanan Rides Alone' (1958) starring: Randolph Scott, Craig Stevens, Barry Kelley, Tol Avery, Peter Whitney, and Manuel Rojas. Perhaps the only really unjustified feature of this Western is the title. They should have kept the original, "The name's Buchanan" - a line which crops up sufficiently often in the first five minutes to verge on becoming a catchphrase for the title character. One thing Buchanan *doesn't* do is ride alone. For a cowboy hero - particularly one played by Randolph Scott! - he's an unusually cheerful and sociable type, who picks up friends and allies almost everywhere he goes. I don't believe I've ever seen Randolph Scott smile so much in all the rest of his films put together - and it has much the same shock value as a grin on the face of Leonard Nimoy!
But it's mainly the humour that sets this film apart from a hundred other unpretentious B-Westerns. The plot twists don't hurt, either. This slender piece bears as many stings in the tail as the final chapters of a Hercule Poirot mystery. Tables are turned by one side upon the other so often that it verges upon the ridiculous; a point milked to wry appreciation by the script. The other interesting point is that Buchanan himself has little influence over the course of events.
Then comes 'Ride Lonesome' (1959) starring: Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, Pernell Roberts, James Best, Lee Van Cleef, and James Coburn. 'Ride Lonesome' fully deserves its cult-movie status. Here the chemistry between the director Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott attains its highest level. Of course, as for any other cult movie, it would be desirable to see "Ride lonesome" several times to fully appreciate it. The story is very simple, and somewhat reminiscent of others by the distinguished western-writer Burt Kennedy, but it is dense with distinct themes and psychological nuances. The dialogue is perfect: extremely dry, sharp and laconic, but endowed with a remarkable sense of humor. We feel that the guys on the screen are more for action than for chats.
Finally we get 'Comanche Station' (1960) starring: Randolph Scott, Nancy Gates, Claude Akins, Skip Homeier, Richard Rust, and Rand Brooks. 'Comanche Station' is the last of several films Randolph Scott made for Budd Boetticher with Columbia pictures. This would have been his last film, but for being lured to do just one more, the immortal Ride the High Country.
The film combines elements of 'The Naked Spur' and 'Two Rode Together' and blends them successfully. Scott is a man with one obsession, to get his wife back from the Comanches who kidnapped here ten years earlier. Whenever he hears of a white woman being put up for trade by the Indians he heads out with trade goods and buys her in the hopes of finding his beloved.
On this trip he ransoms Nancy Gates away from the Comanches. Later on he runs into an old enemy Claude Akins traveling with two young guns, Richard Rust and Skip Homeier. It seems as though Nancy's husband has put up a ten thousand dollar reward for her. Akins is a truly malevolent figure, a scalphunter who kills Indians and sells their scalps for bounty. Unfortunately the two have need of each other in hostile Indian territory. These are all Full Screen Presentations with an Aspect Ratio of 4x3.