Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ride Lonesome (1959)

It's a sad statement when sturdy acting and strong, professional direction can't keep a film from feeling like a retread, but so it goes with this Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott Western. This was the fifth of seven films they made together between 1956 and 1960, and it touches on a lot of the same themes as its predecessors (three of which I've seen -- Seven Men from Now, The Tall T and Decision at Sundown). The trouble is, those previous films covered that thematic ground (the meaning of manhood, the dividing line between good and evil, the cost of obsessive revenge, the psychic toll of loneliness set against the endless horizon of the West) about as well as it's ever going to be covered. Everyone here tries hard (Boetticher, Scott, writer Burt Kennedy, the supporting cast), but no amount of effort can keep this from feeling second-hand. About the only noteworthy thing about this film, besides the great support from James Coburn and Pernell Roberts, is how much of a man's-man movie this really is -- I wonder what the hell Karen Steele is doing in this film besides pissing off the Indians in a useless, time-padding subplot. The ending is strong.

Grade: C+


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