Saturday, April 15, 2017

Brandon's #86: Seven Men From Now (Budd Boetticher, 1956)

John's mention of Randolph Scott got me thinking about his six collusions with Budd Boetticher. I dare it was one of the best director/actor partnerships in the movies, known as the Ranown Cycle. The movies mostly found Scott riding lonesome and stumbling across some hapless group, unfit in the Darwinian sense for frontier life. His character occupies a space between the essentially good and mostly evil, evil meaning selfish and prone to violence. He reluctantly becomes their protector, often fulfilling acts of vengeance foretold in backstory.

And yet these acts of retribution often feel fruitless and empty, I think by design. I hesitate to call it "moral complexity," both because it's a worn out term and because the beauty of these films are, in fact, their simplicity. SEVEN MEN FROM NOW also has Lee Marvin bestriding that moral divide. I hated seeing him lured to the wrong side, knowing this ultimately sealed his fate. Boetticher's use of the Alabama Hills and Lone Pine landscape is crucial, like Mann and Ford's more celebrated work. It's also lean and mean, no fuss no muss one hour and eighteen spare beautiful minutes. Thus you cowards have no excuse to miss out on this.

On a side note, Lou left us and I miss him a lot.

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