Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ride Lonesome: Review

Ride Lonesome was released in 1959 by Columbia Pictures. The film is the fifth in director Budd Boetticher's "Ranown" westerns cycle. Like the other “Ranown” westerns in the cycle, this film stars Randolph Scott (The Tall T, Ride The High Country). Costarring are James Best (Dukes of Hazzard) and Lee Van Cleef (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). The series began with Seven Men From Now (1956) and ended with Comanche Station in (1960). All the films in the cycle were produced by Randolph Scott and Harry Joe Brown and distributed by Columbia Pictures.

As with the other films in this popular and influential series, the theme of man's isolation in a brutal, unforgiving, and at times absurdly cruel reality is at the center. Despite the fact that these films were low budget B-movie Westerns, they are regarded by many critics as being comparable to the great works of existential writers or the epic narratives of the bible. And can be seen as an influence on the westerns to come. Including Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, to the more recent existential western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007).

The film stars Randolph Scott as bounty hunter Ben Brigade. Brigade captures wanted outlaw Billy John (James Best), who warns Brigade and anyone who'll listen that his brother Frank (Lee Van Cleef) will never allow him to remain a prisoner of Brigade's, or to keep his date with the gallows in Santa Cruz. But Brigade doesn't just want to bring Billy John in for reasons of justice and reward, he's also got a score to settle with Frank.

With the journey to bring Billy John to justice underway, Brigade stops at a staging post, where he saves the manager's wife, Carrie Lane (Karen Steele), from an Indian attack, and enlists the help of two outlaw gunmen Sam Boone (Pernell Roberts) and his friend Whit (James Coburn), in his big screen debut, to continue the journey; hoping there will be safety in numbers. Brigade knows that the reward on Billy John's head is the real motive behind Sam's and Whit's arrival, and that outlaw leader Frank won't be far behind. As the Indian attacks persist, the outlaws plan to take Billy for themselves. But the man of action Ben Brigade has plans of his own . . .

Boetticher cinematic style reaches its fullest potential in Ride Lonesome. His use of long single shots for many of the traveling sequences adds to the dramatic effect and gives the film a sense of endlessness, as if time now stands still and all those involved in this journey are trapped in dismal purgatory.

All the films in the cycle can be found in the Budd Boetticher boxed set.

No comments:

Post a Comment